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03/03/2013 7:05 PM ET

McDade impressing Indians in spring

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Spring results do not always portend future success, but they can make a great first impression. One player who has caught Cleveland's eye in this preseason's early going is Minor League first baseman Mike McDade.

Indians manager Terry Francona is impressed by what he has seen so far.

"The season is more important, obviously," Francona said. "But we love when guys show up and do great. The impression guys make is important, but how they do in their season certainly is more important. I think it's more the impression, how guys go about their business."

The Indians claimed the 23-year-old McDade off waivers from the Blue Jays on Nov. 30 and will likely send him to Triple-A Columbus to open this season. In the meantime, Cleveland is using the spring slate to get a close look at McDade's potential.

Entering Sunday's game against the Dodgers, the switch-hitting McDade had hit at a .500 (7-for-14) clip with one home run, a pair of doubles and nine RBIs through eight Cactus League games for the Tribe.

Francona said he was not entirely surprised by McDade's prolific start to the spring.

"He had a pretty good year when he went to Triple-A last year," Francona said. "I think that's the idea, that his bat probably needs to carry him. He's not going to be a base stealer. He's probably going to go as far as his bat carries him."

Last season, McDade hit .285 overall with a .360 on-base percentage and a .445 slugging percentage between Double-A and Triple-A in Toronto's farm system. In 118 games, McDade piled up 17 home runs, 19 doubles, 53 runs and 67 RBIs. He hit .338 with a .885 on-base plus slugging percentage in 18 games with Triple-A Las Vegas.

Francona has also been impressed with how the 6-foot-1, 250-pound McDade has handled himself at first base.

"You look at his body, he actually does a pretty good job at first base," Francona said. "He's very big, but he's pretty -- I don't know if nimble is the right word -- but he's going to catch what he gets to and his hands are pretty soft."

Herrmann contemplating options after spring injury

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Frank Herrmann had finally found a comfort zone on the mound. He added a spike curveball last season, saw improved results and headed into camp this spring confident about his chances of making the Indians' Opening Day bullpen.

After injuring a ligament in his right elbow, Herrmann is now investigating the proper course of action. He met with arm specialist Dr. Lewis Yocum on Saturday and Tommy John surgery was part of the discussion. A typical recovery from that ligament-replacement procedure can take between a year and a year-and-a-half.

Before making a decision, Herrmann wants to explore all of his options.

"I'm going to have to get as much information as I can," Herrmann said, "so I can make an informed decision, one that I can live with. I know what I want to do, but I've got to be smart about it. I want to pitch. I want to shut it down for a little while and be able to contribute halfway through the season.

"Whether that's realistic or logical, I still haven't wrapped my head around that, to be honest."

Herrmann felt a sharp pain in his throwing elbow during his one-inning appearance against the A's on Monday. The right-hander pushed through the discomfort, but lost command of his pitches and surrendered four runs on five hits. It was a discouraging end to a spring that had hardly begun for the pitcher.

Last season, the 28-year-old Herrmann posted a 2.33 ERA in 15 games for Cleveland, striking out 14 and walking four over 19 1/3 innings. It was a small sample, but it gave Herrmann (signed out of Harvard as a non-drafted free agent in 2005) evidence that the curveball he added during his time at Triple-A Columbus could play on the big league stage.

That had Herrmann excited about competing for a bullpen job this spring.

"I feel like I finally got myself where I wanted to be, and thought I could be," Herrmann sid. "Coming into this year, I felt great. I still physically feel great other than the ligament. It's frustrating, but it's part of the game. I've had seven full seasons where I haven't been unavailable one day.

"I've been able to be durable. I've been able to go out there and help the team. Now that I feel like I've got to the point where I can really contribute, it's frustrating."

Veteran Giambi could nab roster spot

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Indians' decision on Jason Giambi's status later this spring will likely influence the way the club assembles the rest of its bench.

Giambi is in camp as a non-roster invitee, but he is in the mix for a spot on the Opening Day roster as a part-time designated hitter, first baseman and pinch hitter. Cleveland would be limited in how it could use Giambi, making versatility a must for the rest of the bench.

"We would have to make it work, yeah," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "That's something to think about, for sure."

As things currently stand, two of Cleveland's four bench roles will be occupied by backup catcher Lou Marson and utility man Mike Aviles, who can play multiple infield positions and the corner outfield spots. The four leading candidates for the other bench jobs appear to be Giambi, outfielder Ezequiel Carrera, utility man Ryan Raburn and catcher Yan Gomes.

Carrera, who is out of Minor League options, offers speed and solid contact ability at the plate, and he can play all three outfield positions. Raburn can provide depth at second and third base, as well as the corner outfield spots. Gomes -- a catcher by trade -- can also handle first and third base, as well as the outfield corners.

Having a fourth outfielder capable of playing center -- such as Carrera -- is not necessarily required given that Cleveland's three starting outfielders (Michael Brantley, Michael Bourn and Drew Stubbs) can each play center. First baseman Nick Swisher can also slide to right field, if needed.

As for the 42-year-old Giambi, Francona has continuously raved about what the veteran brings both on the field and in the clubhouse.

"You know what he has. He has like a presence about him," Francona said. "He doesn't swing at bad pitches ever. He'll take a walk, and he still has his bat speed. So, yeah, I've been very impressed. You watch him, if you watch him in BP, he hits until he feels good and then he gets out. That's just a veteran knowing his body."

Quote to note

"I'm ready for whatever comes my way, whether it be pitching this year, having to sit out a year or the off chance you never get the opportunity to pitch again. It's just kind of how it goes."

--Indians reliever Frank Herrmann, who is out with a right elbow injury

Smoke signals

• Indians manager Terry Francona was spotted riding a motorized scooter from Cleveland's spring complex to Goodyear Ballpark (located roughly a half-mile away) on Sunday morning. Francona said he is considering commuting to Progressive Field on the scooter this season.

"I live a block and a half from the ballpark," Francona said. "I live closer to the ballpark than I do to where I park my car. So unless we're really playing bad, I'm going to probaby drive that in. You've got to use judgement."

Asked if he would wear a helmet, Francona laughed.

"Well, the thing goes 12 mph," he said. "So if you go down, there's a pretty good chance you're going to survive."

• The Indians have already made it known that sinkerballer Justin Masterson is the club's Opening Day starter. On Sunday, Francona said it is safe to assume that righty Ubaldo Jimenez will follow in the second rotation slot.

"That's the way we see it unfolding," Francona said. "I know we've talked about Masty opening, and I know that's a big deal and everything. We certainly anticipate Ubaldo throwing second. The only reason we really haven't said anything is barring anything silly, that's the way it'll work."

• The Indians have a Minor League "B" game scheduled for 10 a.m. MT at the team's complex in Goodyear, Ariz., on Monday. Right-hander Brett Myers -- projected to be the Tribe's third starter -- is slated to throw three innings. Pitchers Danny Salazar, T.J. House and Matt Capps will also throw.

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.