02/17/2013 7:19 PM ET
Swisher returns to camp from mother's funeral
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Nick Swisher was back in camp with the Indians on Sunday morning, launching a string of batting-practice home runs and joking around with teammates. The first baseman was happy to be back at camp, given his trying week.
Swisher's mother, Lillian Marie Malizia, passed away from leukemia at the age of 63 on Monday.
"It's nice to get around the guys, man. It takes your mind off stuff," said Swisher, who spent the past couple of days in Columbus, Ohio, to attend funeral services. "It's nice to go back home and see everybody. It's such a bad time.
"It's just nice to be back here doing what I love, just getting back in my routine."
Swisher said this was his mom's second battle with leukemia.
"She was tough for the first one," he said.
Indians manager Terry Francona was willing to give Swisher as much time as he needed, but the first baseman returned to the team in time for Sunday's morning workout. Francona said it was good to see Swisher on the field and smiling.
"I didn't even want to call to check and see when he was coming back," Francona said. "You've got to take care of what you've got to take care of. But there's a little different vibe when he's around, and I mean that in a really positive way."
Cleveland signed the 32-year-old Swisher over the winter to a four-year contract worth $56 million. The deal includes a vesting option worth $14 million for 2017. Last season, the first baseman hit .272 with 24 home runs, 36 doubles and 93 RBIs in 148 games for the Yankees.
Swisher said he was excited to turn his focus back to baseball.
"The last thing I want to do is bring any more attention to this situation than what has to be," Swisher said. "It was nice. It was good to go home. The service was beautiful. We've just got to move on. We've got to do our grieving and just move on."
Tribe confident in Stubbs' transition to right field
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Drew Stubbs has never played right field in the big leagues, but Indians manager Terry Francona believes the former center fielder is so skilled on defense that the transition will be an easy one.
"I think it'll take him about 10 minutes," Francona said.
On Sunday morning, Stubbs smiled upon hearing Francona's comment. Stubbs still considers himself a center fielder, but he is more than willing to accept his new role. Such concessions must be made when a team brings in an elite defender such as Michael Bourn to patrol center.
"When you see they signed a guy like Bourn to the contract he got," Stubbs said, "it's kind of an understood. You see the writing on the wall. I still feel like center field is my position. This year, obviously, I won't be there, but who knows whether I'll be there for a year or five years or whatever.
"It's a thing that I think is going to make this team best and it's what I'm happy to do."
Cleveland acquired Stubbs from Cincinnati as part of December's three-team, nine-player trade that also included Arizona. At the time, it appeared as though Stubbs -- a speedy and defensively sound outfielder -- would play center field, forcing Michael Brantley (also a center fielder by trade) to left. That changed when the Indians signed Bourn earlier this week to a four-year deal worth $48 million.
With Bourn in the fold as the center fielder and leadoff man, Brantley will indeed shift to left and Stubbs will move to right. In 898 professional games between the Majors and Minors, Stubbs has played a corner spot on just nine occasions (five games in left and four in right in the Minor Leagues). He played center in his 481 career games with the Reds.
"I don't think it'll be too tough of a transition," Stubbs said. "I don't have a whole lot of reps out there over the course of my career. A little bit in the Arizona Fall League several years back and a few times in summer league in college. So, I'm not comfortable over there by any means yet. But I don't think it'll take long."
Francona plans to mainly use Santana at catcher
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Indians have used catcher Carlos Santana as a part-time first baseman and designated hitter over the past two seasons. This year, the plan is to have Santana catch a lot. The rest will be sorted out as the season moves along.
The Tribe's revamped roster now has full-time options at first base and DH in Nick Swisher and Mark Reynolds, respectively.
"That's something we'll probably have to work through as I get to know him," Indians manager Terry Francona said of Santana. "Guys get nicked up from time to time and certainly things can change during a season. But the way we sit now, I've talked about having him catch.
"It's not quite as easy to move him over there [to first base], because you're moving somebody else out. And he understands that."
Last season, the switch-hitting Santana hit .252 with 18 home runs, 27 doubles, 76 RBIs and 91 walks in 143 games for Cleveland. He started 95 games behind the plate, but also had 27 starts as the DH and 20 starts at first. In 2011, Santana started 88 games at catcher and 63 at first.
There could be days when Swisher plays right field, if one of Cleveland's outfielders is given a day off. Under that scenario, Reynolds could play first base and Santana could serve as the designated hitter. That alignment could come into play against left-handed pitchers, with the right-handed Lou Marson starting behind the plate.
"You need to play Marson to the point where he can be helpful," Francona said. "These things have a way of working out. But the plan is to catch [Santana] the majority of the time."
Quote to note
"I think you're going to be hard-pressed to find another outfield that's more athletic and better out there than us. It's exciting to be a part of a trio like that. I think the pitchers are going to probably be happy with what they've got out there."
--Indians right fielder Drew Stubbs, on being part of an outfield with Michael Brantley and Michael Bourn
• The Indians have Nick Hagadone, Scott Barnes, David Huff, Rich Hill and Giovanni Soto in camp as possible left-handed relief options. Tribe manager Terry Francona is hoping to break camp with at least one southpaw in his bullpen.
"We would certainly like to have a lefty," Francona said on Sunday. "Saying that, I think I've learned the hard way that, when you have a lefty just for the sake of having a lefty, as a manager, that can realy mess you up."
• Reliever Joe Smith used Sunday as a rest day in his comeback from a minor left oblique issue. Smith is scheduled to resume his throwing program (likely up to 120 feet) on Monday, with the goal of being ready to throw off a mound by the end of the week.
• The Indians open their Cactus League slate with a tilt against the Reds at 3:05 p.m. ET on Friday at Goodyear Ballpark. Last spring, Cleveland went 7-22-3 in Cactus League play, dropping their record to 53-65-11 in the team's four years at the training site in Goodyear, Ariz.