03/08/2013 1:31 PM ET
Francona wants smart, aggressive baserunning
By William Boor / MLB.com
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The retooled Indians offense can run. With Jason Kipnis, Drew Stubbs, Michael Bourn and Michael Brantley, it is no secret Cleveland will be able to steal bases in 2013.
That quartet of Indians combined to swipe 115 bags in 2012, but manager Terry Francona's focus is not on stealing bases. Instead, he is focused on strong, fundamental baserunning.
"I think we have the potential to be [a good baserunning team]," Francona said. "That's more important to me than the number of stolen bases. Not getting doubled off on line drives, going first to third, things like that. That's more important to me than the number of stolen bases we have."
In addition to going from first to third on a hit, the Indians' speed is expected to put pressure on opposing defenses, something Francona has experience managing against.
"When you go into a series [against a team that can run], you better throw the ball where it's supposed to go or they will run you into errors, mistakes and embarrass you," he said.
There is a time and place to be aggressive on the basepaths. Cleveland hopes to use its speed to force mistakes and generate additional offense, but that does not mean it will be running wild.
Francona still wants his guys to be smart and pick their spots.
"However you produce runs, that's the idea," Francona said. "We want to push and we want to be intelligent. Our job as coaches and managers is to put guys in positions where they can use their tools. If they can run, we will let them run."
Francona doesn't expect Swisher will press
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Nick Swisher's four-year, $56 million contract is the largest the Indians have ever given to a free agent.
The 32-year-old outfielder was born in Columbus, Ohio, and despite signing a record deal to play in his home state, manager Terry Francona does not expect Swisher to press.
Some players get off to slow starts or slump when trying to live up to big contracts, but Swisher has an infectious, fun-loving personality that Francona believes will always be there.
"I think that's how he will be every day," Francona said. "I don't think that'll ever change. He wakes up and he's the same every day."
Over his nine-year career, Swisher is a .256 hitter, but he is coming off of a very productive season with the Yankees, when he hit .272 and drove in 93 runs.
"That's the one thing I reminded him the day he signed," Francona said. "I just said, 'Be yourself, you don't have to do more. That's why we signed you, we like what you do.'"
• Brantley, who had stitches removed from his left forearm Thursday, has resumed workouts and will be back playing in games soon. Francona said Brantley would be OK to play Saturday, but he did not want to make Brantley travel all the way to Mesa for one at-bat. Cleveland has a home game Sunday against the Rangers at 4:05 p.m. ET, and Brantley will likely be in the lineup.
• Closer Chris Perez said Sunday remains his target date to begin throwing. Perez is nursing an injured right shoulder and said he feels no pain in it.
• Trevor Bauer is scheduled to pitch in a Minor League game Saturday. Bauer has pitched seven innings and allowed two earned runs this spring.
William Boor is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.