02/25/11 7:52 PM ET
Crowe's chances limited by shoulder fatigue
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
Crowe is currently battling right rotator cuff soreness in his shoulder, forcing him into the training room for rehab work while his teammates take the field for morning workouts. Right now, there is no established timetable for when Crowe can resume playing catch.
"It is definitely frustrating," Crowe said on Friday morning. "When you come in and the team goes out to stretch and then you go to work with the trainer, that's not a good feeling during the first week of Spring Training.
"It is frustrating, but as a professional athlete, that's part of the game."
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"My elbow is fine. It's strong. It's good," Crowe said. "Since a month after the surgery, that was good to go. It's 100 percent healthy. There's just tenderness, tiredness, I don't know what you want to call it, [in the shoulder]."
Crowe said he arrived at camp in early January and began playing light catch at that point. Before long, though, the outfielder was shut down due to the shoulder soreness. Crowe said the current plan is to rest, with the hope that the shoulder can recover enough to avoid discussing possible surgery.
"It's just kind of a day-to-day thing," Crowe said. "We have to wait until it calms down to a point where I can start playing catch and continue to build and go from there."
The switch-hitting Crowe, who can man all three outfield positions, hit .251 with two home runs, 24 doubles and 36 RBIs in 122 games for the Indians in 2010. He is currently in the mix for a reserve outfield role off Cleveland's bench. Other outfielders in camp include Shelley Duncan, Travis Buck, Chad Huffman and Nick Weglarz.
Depending on the status of center fielder Grady Sizemore, who is returning from microfracture surgery on his left knee, the Tribe could have either one or two outfield jobs up for grabs as Spring Training progresses.
"We've just got to get him healthy," Indians manager Manny Acta said of Crowe. "I know it's tough for him, because he knows that he was competing for one of those spots. But there's plenty of time left."
As things currently stand, the Indians are hoping to have a starting outfield consisting of Michael Brantley in left field, Sizemore in center and Shin-Soo Choo in right, with Austin Kearns coming off the bench. If Sizemore is not ready for Opening Day, Brantley would shift to center and Kearns would become the starting left fielder.
Valbuena must hit to move north with Tribe
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Indians manager Manny Acta made it clear. If Luis Valbuena is going to convince Cleveland to bring him north as part of the Opening Day roster, the infielder will need to show something with his bat this spring.
"He's got to come out and swing the bat like he has in the past," Acta said, "and put himself back on the map, not only to me, but to everybody else. Luis came to camp last year as our everyday second baseman and he struggled the whole year."
Right now, Valbuena's best shot at making the team is as a utility infielder.
"That's why he's here," Acta said.
Orlando Cabrera and Jason Donald are currently the frontrunners for the vacancies at second and third base, respectively. Asdrubal Cabrera has a hold on the starting shortstop job. Valbuena can man all three of those positions, but he has competition in Jayson Nix, Adam Everett and Jack Hannahan for a backup infielder role.
Last season, the 25-year-old Valbuena hit just .193 with two homers and 24 RBIs in 91 games with the Indians. As a rookie in 2009, Valbuena posted a .250 average with 10 homers, 25 doubles and 31 RBIs in 103 games with the Tribe.
"It's a game of adjustments," Acta said. "He had that first year up here and had a bunch of extra-base hits and they made some adjustments on him. It was time for him to adjust back."
Indians looking for Brantley to utilize speed
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Indians are hoping for big things on the basepaths this season for Michael Brantley. If the young outfielder would stop hitting triples, he could start working on that part of his game this spring.
On Friday, Brantley tripled to center field off Indians righty Mitch Talbot in the first inning of Cleveland's intrasquad game. It marked the second triple in as many days for Brantley.
"That's an average of 162 during the season," said a smiling Indians manager Manny Acta.
Is Brantley going to try for one triple per game this season?
"Maybe," Brantley said with a grin. "Why not?"
Kidding aside, Brantley has been spending time this spring working with guest instructor Kenny Lofton and Minor League baserunning coordinator Gary Thurman. In their sessions, Brantley has worked on bunting and basestealing techniques.
"We're looking for him to get even better this year at being more of a factor on the bases," Acta said. "We've talked to him. He knows that. Kenny and Gary Thurman are working with him on that aspect. I think Michael is going to be a fine piece for us."
Indians relief prospect Bryce Stowell did not have a memorable appearance during Friday's intrasquad game. The hard-throwing righty -- known for hitting triple digits on the radar gun on occasion -- issued four consecutive walks. Indians manager Manny Acta said the Indians are stressing command with the young pitcher. "That's what he needs to work on," Acta said. "At this level up here, you need to have command because guys will lay off of those pitches. Bryce knows that." ... Acta was impressed with the offensive showing on Friday from third-base prospect Lonnie Chisenhall, who used a groundout to drive in a run in the first inning and added an RBI double in the third. "He has a beautitful, nice, compact swing," Acta said. "He's got a lot going on for him." ... Acta noted that right-hander Carlos Carrasco, who is penciled in as the No. 4 starter right now, registered four first-pitch strikes to the only hitters he faced on Friday. Cleveland is emphasizing first-pitch strikes this spring with all of its pitchers. ... The Indians will have a normal workout on Saturday morning. The club opens its Cactus League slate against the Reds at 3:05 p.m. ET on Sunday at Goodyear Ballpark. Righty Josh Tomlin -- in the mix for the fifth spot in the rotation -- is scheduled to start on Sunday.