02/19/2013 7:50 PM ET
Capps set for live session, eager to compete for role
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Matt Capps is not accustomed to arriving at Spring Training without knowing his role in the bullpen. Capps, who is in camp with Cleveland as a non-roster invitee, is competing for a spot on the Opening Day roster.
It is new territory for Capps, but he is eager to tackle the challenge.
"For the last eight years, I've been on a roster and I kind of knew where I was going to be," Capps said. "But, I get it. After being hurt last year, I need to prove I'm healthy. I know when I am healthy, I'll take my chances with anybody.
"It's just a matter of being healthy through Spring Training and, here in about two weeks, start working on competing. If I'm healthy in two weeks, and I can go out and physically compete, everything is going to work out pretty well."
Capps, 29, was limited to 30 games last season with the Twins due to shoulder issues. Across 29 1/3 innings, the veteran right-hander notched 14 saves, posted a 3.68 ERA and had 18 strikeouts against four walks.
Over eight Major League seasons, Capps has collected 138 saves in stints with the Pirates, Nationals and Twins. His best showing came in 2010, when he fashioned a 2.47 ERA and chalked up 42 saves in 74 games with Washington and Minnesota.
If Capps can regain that form, Cleveland will have made quite the find.
"That would be the hope," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "When [general manager Chris Antonetti] signed him, I was like, 'Great.'"
By March 26, the Indians will need to make a decision: release Capps or pay him a $100,000 bonus if he accepts a Minor League assignment.
Capps said he worked hard over the winter to rehab his shoulder and has been "relatively pain-free" since resuming throwing in December. The right-hander has worked off a mound three times in bullpen sessions this spring and is slated to throw to hitters in a live batting practice session on Wednesday.
"We've made little goals and little steps along the way," Capps said. "I think the next step is getting a hitter in the box and kind of getting those juices flowing and the competitive fire going, and we'll see how we recover from that."
Protective screen optional for pitchers throwing BP
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Pitchers tend to be ahead of the hitters during these early stages of Spring Training, but that does not mean there is no risk when teams begin holding live batting practice.
On Tuesday, a wave of pitchers took the mounds at the Indians' spring complex -- many without a protective L-screen -- and faced hitters for the first time. Starter Justin Masterson and Vinnie Pestano were struck on the legs with comebackers, but neither bruising was deemed serious.
"Everybody is fine," Indians manager Terry Francona said.
Hitters had the choice of whether or not to swing, and pitchers had the option of using an L-screen. Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera sent a chopper back at Masterson, who was struck on a heel. Second baseman Jason Kipnis swung at a pitch from Pestano and hit the reliever on the side of his left shin.
Pestano, who had a noticeable bruise after the workout, said he was fine.
"I threw a hanging two-seamer to a left-handed hitter," Pestano said. "That's what they do to it. That sent me a message: Don't do that again."
Francona said throwing from behind a screen is often awkward for pitchers.
"They get more out of it throwing without that L-screen," Francona said. "I think they're all more comfortable doing it, and the drill is all for the pitchers. The hitters, for the very most part, just track balls. A couple guys swing, but they know going in this is still the pitchers' time to get ready in their progression. I thought everything went pretty well."
Besides Masterson and Pestano, other pitchers who threw in Tuesday's live sessions included Ubaldo Jimenez, Carlos Carrasco, Scott Kazmir, Bryan Shaw, Cody Allen, Nick Hagadone, Joe Martinez, Giovanni Soto, Matt Langwell, Jerry Gil, Preston Guilmet and Trevor Bauer.
Cleveland will resume live batting practice Wednesday, though the mound sessions will be moved to the indoor cage if it rains as forecasted. In that scenario, hitters will stand in but will be instructed not to swing.
Francona likes Bauer's long-toss warm-up routine
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- In the time leading up to Trevor Bauer's first live batting practice session of the spring on Tuesday, the young Indians pitcher showed off his unique long-toss routine.
When Bauer reached his maximum distance, he was near the warning track in left-center field, throwing long, looping tosses back to a bullpen catcher positioned midway down the right-field line. It is an unconventional approach, but manager Terry Francona sees no issues.
"I like it," Francona said. "Long tossing is great. It's something as an organization we're trying to incorporate more, as long as you do it correctly. It's all about building arm strength. Sometimes throwing builds arm strength and sometimes it depletes it. People are different.
"As an organization, we've really tried to increase our long toss."
Bauer has indicated that his long-toss routine can sometimes reach around 400 feet in throwing distance. Before his outings, the 22-year-old right-hander typically will start his warm-up ritual roughly 80 minutes before the game's first pitch.
Bauer's workout regimen has been well documented, but the pitcher is hardly the first player to implement this type of long-toss program. Last season, veteran sinkerballer Derek Lowe would throw from foul pole to foul pole on occasion as part of a warm-up routine with the Indians.
"Some guys do it," Francona said, "but it's just not noticeable because they don't throw it quite as far."
Cleveland acquired Bauer over the winter as part of a nine-player, three-team trade with Arizona and Cincinnati in December. This spring, the right-hander is competing for one of the vacancies at the back end of the Tribe's rotation.
In 29 career Minor League starts, Bauer has gone 13-4 with a 3.00 ERA, piling up 200 strikeouts against 73 walks in 156 innings. Last year, he went 12-2 with a 2.42 ERA between Double-A Mobile and Triple-A Reno, striking out 157 in 130 1/3 innings. Bauer went 1-2 with a 6.06 ERA in four outings with the D-backs last season.
Quote to note
"I talked to him quite a bit over the winter and I had a pretty good feel from watching him play. I knew he was a hard-nosed player. Word gets around the league pretty quick, especially when young guys come up. I think I had him pegged about right."
--Indians manager Terry Francona, on second baseman Jason Kipnis
• Indians manager Terry Francona noted Tuesday that closer Chris Perez and setup man Vinnie Pestano will not need to rejoin Cleveland to pitch in a game during their first week of workouts with Team USA. Francona said Team USA has two exhibition games scheduled and the pitchers will be able to stay on their respective programs.
"They're playing two games, so there's no need for them to come back," Francona said. "It falls right when they would be pitching anyway. If we're playing a game the same day they are, I want them to enjoy the whole experience with the USA team."
Francona noted that catcher Yan Gomes is planning on skipping the World Baseball Classic. Gomes, who played for Brazil in the qualifying round of the tournament, wants to focus on competing for a job with Cleveland.
• Indians reliever Joe Smith (left oblique) played catch up to a distance of 120 feet during Tuesday's workout. The sidearm-throwing right-hander is scheduled for a mound session on Wednesday.
• Francona said on Tuesday that he is in no rush to name an Opening Day starter for the team's April 2 tilt at Toronto because too much can change before the onset of the regular season. Sinkerballer Justin Masterson pitched on Opening Day for Cleveland last season.