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02/16/09 5:59 PM EST
Indians try out duo in outfield blend
Barfield, Garko to receive plenty of time in added roles this spring
By Anthony Castrovince / MLB.com
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Indians' outfield experiment will begin in earnest Tuesday, when the full squad holds its first official workout. But the preliminary period was Monday, when first baseman Ryan Garko and second baseman Josh Barfield headed out to the outfield grass for the first time during morning batting practice.
Both players have said they have no problem trying out the new position, but it will take some time before the Indians know if the outfield is a legitimate option for them. The difficulty, of course, will be ensuring Garko and Barfield get long enough looks in the outfield without neglecting their work at their original positions.
"I've got to challenge myself and the staff to find what's the best way to get these guys the work," manager Eric Wedge said. "Because it's 'in addition to,' not 'instead of' [their original positions]. We've got to be aware of the physical side of that."
Barfield will also be playing third base in camp. Wedge said he won't try Barfield at shortstop, contrary to what had been speculated.
"Second base and third base are more left-to-right positions," Wedge said. "You're talking about a greater radius at shortstop. There's a lot more going on there. So we'll just keep it to second base and third base for him."
If Barfield shows he has some versatility, he's likely to claim the Indians' last bench spot. Wedge said he had a long conversation with Barfield about the outfield, and Wedge feels Barfield won't have much trouble picking it up.
"He looks pretty comfortable out there," Wedge said.
With center fielder Grady Sizemore heading to the World Baseball Classic in March, the Indians will try Barfield at all three outfield spots.
"We don't have [Franklin] Gutierrez anymore, so we don't have a true backup center fielder," Wedge said. "My main look is going to be at [Ben] Francisco and [Shin-Soo] Choo [for the backup center-field role], but we'll need to have another guy, too."
Garko, on the other hand, will only be tried out in left field. The thought of him playing the outfield has drawn a chuckle from those familiar with Garko's gait, but Wedge is serious about the move's potential.
"I don't think this is wasting time, by any stretch of the imagination," Wedge said. "If it's something to where we can get another bat in the lineup and he can defend himself out there, then it's definitely worth it."
Infielders Mark DeRosa and Jamey Carroll add to the outfield options. DeRosa will be considered for the corner spots, and Carroll will be considered for all three spots.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.