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03/15/11 9:15 PM ET

Antonetti: 'Too many' infield prospects is good

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Indians general manager Chris Antonetti smiled when asked this week how the organization plans to sort out the playing time for the handful of infielders expected to be on Triple-A Columbus' roster.

Antonetti was armed with a punchline.

"Co-opt a team?" Antonetti said with a grin. "Is that possible?"

All kidding aside, Antonetti views the situation as a positive for Cleveland. The possibility exists that third-base prospects Lonnie Chisenhall and Jared Goedert, and second-base prospects Cord Phelps and Jason Kipnis, will all be in Columbus to open the year.

"The way we look at it organizationally," Antonetti said, "it's a good problem to have to have too many quality players, with too few positions. To the extent we can do that consistently, we'll be in a really good place, organizationally.

"With respect to our Triple-A team and how that plays out, we'll have to take some time in the next few weeks to determine the best alignment of players."

Chisenhall -- the Tribe's top position-player prospect -- is likely ticketed for Triple-A. Kipnis, on the other hand, might open the year at Double-A Akron. That would open up the door for Phelps to man second base in Columbus. Goedert could shift between first and third base, as well as designated hitter.

"We're going to look at all alternatives," Antonetti said, "to figure out what's in the best interest of each guy developmentally, and how we balance that as a group."

Hannahan feels more at home in batter's box

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Jack Hannahan has earned a reputation as a sound defender, no matter where he is playing in the infield. This spring with the Indians, he also wanted to show that he could handle himself at the plate, as well.

"Absolutely," Hannahan said.

Up to this point in camp, Hannahan has displayed the solid glovework that has been his trademark. But he has also given the Indians solid plate appearances, too. If Hannahan continues to do so, he could be a serious candidate to earn a spot on Cleveland's Opening Day roster.

Through 11 Cactus League games, the 31-year-old Hannahan has hit .370, with four walks and a .469 on-base percentage. He said he is finally feeling comfortable in the batter's box again, after years of tinkering with his stance and offsensive approach.

"I struggled with the bat the last couple of years," said Hannahan, who has a .224 career average in the Majors. "I was trying to make a swing change, and finally I feel like I kind of got back to where I was three years ago -- when I was driving the ball the other way, driving the ball up the middle. Finally, I feel like I've got back on track."

Hannahan -- in camp on a Minor League deal -- is a candidate for an infield-utility job. Hannahan is most comfortable, and has the most experience, at third base. But he also has the ability to man first and second base, as well as shortstop.

As things currently stand, Jason Donald -- who projects as the Tribe's starting third baseman -- is currently fighting a left hand injury. General manager Chris Antonetti has mentioned Hannahan as a possible fallback option at the hot corner, if Donald's injury persists.

No matter what role he might fill, Hannahan is just hoping to have a shot at breaking camp with the Indians. His main competition for the infield-utility role appears to be Adam Everett, Luis Valbuena and Jayson Nix.

"The opportunity came along in the offseason," Hannahan said. "I had some other offers, but Cleveland called me up and kind of explained the situation, and it was really tough to pass up ... this type of opportunity. All I can do is come in and make the most of it."

Herrmann working on refining his splitter

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Indians reliever Frank Herrmann came to the realization late last season that he could benefit from adding a reliable split-finger fastball to his pitching repertoire.

It took Herrmann all of 20 minutes over the offseason to do so.

Of course, it is worth noting that Herrmann spent those minutes on a mound at the University of California-Irvine, working on the pitch with former Major Leaguer Mike Scott. Cleveland third-base coach Steve Smith -- a friend of Scott's -- arranged the short pitching lesson.

"I had thrown a split before, but you try and do so much with it," Herrmann said. "You see ones on ESPN and stuff that are so nasty, and you're like, 'I want to throw that every time.' Then you try and do too much. What he had me do was really simplify the grip. I did a little more subtle grip.

"It's not too drastic, because when you do that, one of every five is an effective pitch. Now, I feel like I can throw it pretty consistently to the bottom of the zone. It's still about one of every three or four that falls off the table.

"But if I can get more consistent with it, like anything else as a pitcher, I feel like it could be a big pitch for me."

This spring, Herrmann said Indians pitching coach Tim Belcher has been a big help in continuing to refine the pitch. Herrmann can only hope that it helps him win a spot in Cleveland's bullpen to open the season. This spring, he has fashioned a 1.69 ERA over 5 1/3 innings in Cactus League play.

Herrmann, 26, primarily features a four-seam fastball and slider, so a consistent splitter would give him a good third option to keep hitters guessing. The right-hander said the biggest key to throwing the split is to make sure he is repeating the same arm action and arm speed that he uses for his fastball.

"I don't need it to be nasty," said Herrmann, who posted a 4.03 ERA in 40 games out of the Tribe's bullpen in 2010. "I need it to be six or seven mph off my fastball, with some movement, mainly against lefties."

Tribe's White on track despite spring numbers

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Indians pitching prospect Alex White struggled in his stint with the big league club this spring, but the evaluation of a player's Spring Training performance goes well beyond the box score.

"We try not to put too much stock into Spring Training," Indians general manager Chris Antonetti said. "Alex continued to demonstrate a lot of the attributes that we feel are going to make him a successful Major League pitcher."

In three Cactus League appearances for the Tribe this spring, the 22-year-old White allowed six runs on 10 hits over five innings, striking out six and walking three along the way. In an unofficial "B" game against the White Sox on Sunday, White yielded another three runs in 2 2/3 frames.

Last year, White went 10-10 with a 2.45 ERA over 26 games between Class A Kinston and Double-A Akron in his first taste of professional baseball. Antonetti noted that it is still being determined if the right-hander -- a first-round pick by the Tribe in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft -- will open this year at Double-A or Triple-A.

White's results this spring are not likely to factor into that decision.

"His poise on the mound, the way he competes, his aggressiveness," Antonetti said, "all of those attributes certainly came through in Major League camp. He's got a very good fastball -- with good life and good velocity.

"He didn't have maybe quite the same command in camp that he's demonstrated in the past and will likely demonstrate during the year, but that's to be expected at this point in the year."

Quote to note

"That put me in a tough spot, because a lot of the front office has Princeton guys. I'm on my own here." -- Indians reliever and Harvard graduate Frank Herrmann, on his alma mater's loss to Princeton, ending the Crimson's hope for its first NCAA tournament appearance since 1946

Smoke signals

Right-hander Joe Smith, who has not pitched since Wednesday, remains sidelined with upper abdominal soreness. Smith said he played light catch on Monday, and he remains hopeful that he will get back on a mound later this week. ... Righty Josh Tomlin is scheduled to throw in a Minor League game at 10 a.m. PT on Wednesday at the Indians' complex. Tomlin is competing against lefty David Huff and righty Jeanmar Gomez for the fifth spot in Cleveland's rotation. The Indians have a scheduled team off-day on Wednesday. ... Third baseman Jason Donald (left hand) is still not permitted to hit, and it remains unclear when he might return to game activities for the Indians. Donald was struck on the back of his hand by a pitch on March 5. ... Following the team's off-day on Wednesday, the next four probable starters will be Fausto Carmona, Gomez, Carlos Carrasco and Justin Masterson, in that order. ... Prior to Tuesday's game against the Brewers, the Indians presented the 2010 Class A Lake County Captains players with their Midwest League championship rings. ... Cleveland currently has 47 players remaining in camp with the big league club.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.