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8/13/2013 7:38 P.M. ET

Tribe takes chance on former top prospect Cooper

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Indians took a low-risk move Tuesday by signing former top prospect David Cooper to a Minor League contract. He'll report to the team's Spring Training facility in Arizona.

The 17th overall pick by the Blue Jays in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, Cooper was released by Toronto during Spring Training due to lingering back problems. He underwent surgery in April to have titanium screws inserted into the T-7 and T-8 vertebrae in his back.

"It's a kid who got called up to the big leagues, I think, at age 21," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "He was kind of a phenom with the Blue Jays. He had some back issues, and he's tried to rehab through that. We're going to see what he's got and see where it leads."

Cooper will join Triple-A Columbus, and possibly the Tribe when rosters expand in September.

"I think that's why we're trying to sign him now," Francona said. "Let him play for two, three weeks and see if it's a possibility."

Francona acknowledged September callups have already been discussed, although briefly, and admitted there's always a concern over cluttering the locker room with players who won't see much time.

"I think some of that may depend on where we are in the standings," Francona said. "There are always some guys who seems worthy of being rewarded. At the same time, if you're in the hunt, you don't want too many guys wandering through that clubhouse. We'll work our way through it."

Cooper has a .270 (57-for-211) average with six homers and 23 RBIs over parts of two seasons in the Majors. He batted .300 with four homers in 45 games last season for Toronto.

Smoke signals

• Indians starter Corey Kluber played catch from 60 feet Tuesday at Target Field wearing tape over the right middle finger he sprained on Aug. 5. Francona said Kluber will throw from 60, 90 and 100 feet with the taped protection on his finger, and repeat that process with it removed before taking the mound.

"He's progressing really well," Francona said. "You're kind of at the mercy of the way it's going to heal. But he seems to be healing quickly."

Kerry Walls is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.