03/26/2013 8:00 PM ET
Dice-K, Capps ink Minor League deals with Tribe
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Indians' goal of keeping Daisuke Matsuzaka and Matt Capps came to fruition Tuesday, when the club signed both pitchers to Minor League contracts. The right-handers will remain in Major League camp through Saturday.
Cleveland initially signed Matsuzaka and Capps to Minor League contracts this offseason, but released the pitchers earlier this week after informing them that they would not make the Opening Day roster. By releasing and re-signing the players, the Indians avoid paying them each a $100,000 retention bonus.
The Indians are hoping Matsuzaka in particular can help fortify the team's rotation depth.
"Dice-K, I tried to remind him of this yesterday," Indians manager Terry Francona said on Tuesday. "He's two years removed now from Tommy John. There's no reason he can't be the Dice-K that won 18 games. He just needs some repitition and some confidence, and he's got to remember who he is. I know when he used to take the ball and take the mound, he always felt like he was going to win. He needs to get that back."
Cleveland's rotation for the start of the season will include Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Zach McAllister and Scott Kazmir. Matsuzaka will join rotation candidates Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber at Triple-A Columbus.
Matsuzaka went a combined 33-15 with a 3.72 ERA in 61 outings between the 2007-08 seasons for the Red Sox, who were managed by Francona. Since that strong start, Matsuzaka has endured inconsistent results and injury. He has gone 17-22 with a 5.53 ERA over the past four seasons (296 innings) and underwent Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow in June 2011.
Capps, 29, has a wealth of late-inning experience in the Majors, but is coming off an injury-shortened season with Minnesota. In 30 games in 2012, the right-hander posted a 3.68 ERA with 14 saves, 18 strikeouts and only four walks in 29 1/3 innings. In the second half, however, Capps had two stints on the disabled list due to a right rotator cuff injury.
Over parts of eight seasons in the big leagues, Capps has posted a 3.52 ERA with 138 saves in 444 appearances between tours with the Pirates, Nationals and Twins. His best season came in 2010, when he posted a 2.47 ERA and saved 42 games in 74 combined outings for Washington and Minnesota.
"I'm glad. I was hoping that would happen," Francona said of re-signing Capps. "Matt Capps has continued to get better. He's been a really good professional reliever for a long time. I think the way the Spring Training progressed, we had him behind some guys. That doesn't mean he can't pitch in the big leagues. Selfishly, I'm glad he stayed with us."
Giambi happy with role on Indians
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- After learning he was going to be a part of the Indians' bench this season, veteran Jason Giambi could not help himself. He walked over to Chris Antonetti and gave Cleveland's general manager a hug.
"I'm truly, truly excited and fired up," Giambi said on Tuesday morning. "I have to admit, I gave Chris a hug afterward. I was totally excited."
There is a catch, though.
The 42-year-old Giambi will begin this season on the 15-day disabled list due to what the team is calling a lower back strain. The issue is not considered serious and both the Indians and Giambi are confident that the aging slugger will be ready to be activated when he becomes eligible on April 9.
In the meantime, Giambi will break camp with the club and spend the season's first seven games as a spectator.
"Being a little bit older, and it's the beginning of the season," Giambi said. "We just want to make sure we get out in front of this, because it's a long season. It's a long Spring Training, so it's just to kind of get off my feet a little bit and take care of it."
When Giambi does return, he will shift into a role as a part-time designated hitter and pinch-hitter for Cleveland. The presence of utility men Mike Aviles and Ryan Raburn, who can each play multiple infield spots and outfield corners, combined with a handful of regulars who can man multiple positions, makes it possible for the Indians to carry a player such as Giambi.
All spring, Indians manager Terry Francona has raved about what Giambi brings to the table.
"I don't think he needs to play every day," Francona said. "He wants to be a part of this team and contribute any way he can. That can be in a number of ways, whether it's facing a tough right-hander, or whether it's leadership in the clubhouse. Those things have a way of working out as we get into the season."
Over the past few years with the Rockies, who actually interviewed Giambi for their managerial opening over the offseason, the former American League Most Valuable Player learned how to handle a bench and leadership role. Over 211 games across the past three seasons, Giambi hit .245 with a .370 on-base percentage, 20 home runs, 72 walks and 75 RBIs.
"I really came to love that role when I was in Denver," Giambi said. "I really believe that's how you pass the game on. I'll get some at-bats here and there. I'm just happy I don't have to hit in the ninth all the time against somebody throwing 100 mph. I might get a few at-bats in a DH role."
McGuiness hoping to stick around with Tribe
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Chris McGuiness' baseball life is currently in limbo. The Minor League first baseman has been in camp with the Indians all spring as a Rule 5 Draft pick, but it remains unknown whether Cleveland will be able to keep him in its farm system.
McGuiness is currently exposed to waivers and can be claimed by any team through Wednesday afternoon. If he clears waivers, the Indians must offer him back to the Rangers for $25,000, or attempt to work out a deal to keep the first baseman in the fold.
"I'd love to stay here," McGuiness said. "I like the coaching staff and from the Minor Leagues up to [manager Terry] Francona, everyone's been really good. I just want to play somewhere. I'm just ready to get into a routine and find a team that I'm going to be with for a while. I want to go get the at-bats and start building."
In December, Cleveland spent $50,000 to select the 24-year-old McGuiness from Texas during the Rule 5 Draft. Players added in that manner must remain on the acquiring team's 25-man roster all season, or be offered back to the original club at half the cost.
It became increasingly clear this spring that McGuiness -- with no career at-bats above Double-A -- was not going to make the Indians' Opening Day roster. He was still thrown into plenty of Cactus League contests, but McGuiness only hit .195 (8-for-41) in the 24 games he played through Monday.
"I couldn't ask for anything else," McGuiness said of his playing time. "I was in there every day. I got 40 at-bats. You couldn't have asked for more chances. I started a few games. The chances were there. I just couldn't really get into a groove. I couldn't find a rhythm, but that's part of baseball. It goes and comes. It's one of those springs."
Last season, McGuiness hit .268 with 23 home runs, 25 doubles and 77 RBIs in 123 games for Double-A Frisco in the Rangers' system. He was then named the Most Valuable Player of the Arizona Fall League after hitting .283 with four homers and 27 RBIs in 25 games for Surprise in the offseason.
"I've said it before, I wish he wasn't a Rule 5," Francona said. "It's hard for a position player to skip Triple-A and come to the big leagues. It's not altogether fair to expect them to be able to put up numbers. There's so much to like about him.
"I don't know if it's going to work or not -- if we could keep him -- but I wish we could. I don't know how that's going to work. I know [GM Chris Antonetti] is going to try."
McGuiness is just ready to know one way or another.
"Spring Training has kind of been a whirlwind," he said. "I'm ready for this season to start, wherever it may be, and go from there."
• Indians No. 3 starter Brett Myers, who was signed to a one-year contract worth $8 million over the winter, has gone 1-3 with an 11.25 ERA in five Cactus League outings this spring. Tribe manager Terry Francona has said numerous times that he is not worried about Myers' showing.
"When a guy is a veteran," Francona said, "has a baseball card, you put more into, 'As long as his velocity is still there,' and, 'he's healthy,' and things like that. I mean, I'd love to see everybody, every time they go out, get hits and pitch well. When next Tuesday comes, nobody will remember Spring Training ERAs or batting averages."
• Francona noted Tuesday that All-Star shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, who has missed the past three games with a back injury, would likely resume hitting on Wednesday. Cabrera is unlikely to return to a game until Thursday at the earliest.
• The Indians have altered their probable starter for Wednesday's spring game against the White Sox. Right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka will get the nod in a road game against Chicago and right-hander Carlos Carrasco will pitch in a Minor League game.
Quote to note:
"When I think of Cleveland, I think of the mid-'90s. Those are the thoughts that I have. Hopefully, we can get back there. I know there's a buzz in the air back in Cleveland, and I know all the fans that have come out over the break to get away from the weather are excited. I'm excited that they're excited. They should be. It's going to be fun this year."
--Indians designated hitter Jason Giambi