3/2/2014 12:15 P.M. ET
Swisher chooses to ease into Spring Training
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- It is not uncommon for a veteran player to ease his way into the Spring Training routine. Nick Swisher took that approach in the early days of camp this year, but the Indians first baseman was back on the field Sunday afternoon.
For his Cactus League debut, Swisher was slotted into the second spot of the lineup for the Indians, providing an early look into how he might be used this season. Swisher said he was thrilled to be back in the order as Cleveland begins its quest to build on last summer's run to the postseason.
"It was nice to get out there, man," Swisher said, "just to be out there with the guys and playing. We're super early in Spring Training now, but just to be able to get out there, get a few hacks, it felt good."
Swisher went 0-for-3 in his three plate appearances for the Tribe, but he did strike the first blow within a three-run outburst in the fifth inning. With one out and runners on the corners, Swisher chopped into a fielder's choice, but Yan Gomes scored from third base to put Cleveland on the board.
Cleveland played its first three games of the spring without Swisher, who asked manager Terry Francona to keep him off the field for a handful of contests to start the preseason. Swisher took that approach due to feeling that he pushed things too hard too early in the schedule last year, when he joined the Indians after signing a four-year, $56-million contract.
Swisher felt that too much was made this past week over the fact that he took the first few games off.
"In February? It's not a big deal," Swisher said. "I just said, 'Hey, man, let's give myself a week to get into Spring Training and then start playing some games.' I don't know, man. I think you guys are looking way too into it. Go to some other clubs and see how they do it."
In 146 games for Cleveland last season, the 33-year-old Swisher hit .246 with 22 home runs, 27 doubles and 63 RBIs. At various points throughout the year, Swisher dealt with a left shoulder issue, which had its roots in Spring Training.
Gomes honored to be trailblazer for Brazil
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Yan Gomes has only appeared in parts of two seasons in the big leagues, but the Indians' starting catcher alredy has a place in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
After Gomes became the first Brazilian-born player to reach the Major Leagues, the Hall of Fame collected the Blue Jays hat and jersey he wore in that May 17, 2012, game against the Yankees. Gomes has not been to Cooperstown, N.Y., to see the display, but he said he was humbled by the honor.
"I'm already in there," Gomes said with a smile. "Obviously, as a player I don't belong there, yet. But it's for our country. That's what the cool part is. The guys that are there, I don't even compare to them. But it's cool. It's good to have that little thing to savor."
Gomes -- acquired by Cleveland in an offseason trade prior to last season -- said having the items in the Hall is another way to help build baseball in Brazil.
Over the offseason, Gomes served as an ambassador to Brazil for Major League Baseball, making a trip to his country in December to tour facilities, help with clinics and speak with young players. While home, Gomes ran into Brazilian White Sox pitcher Andre Rienzo, who faced the catcher during his big league debut on July 30 last year.
"It was good just to see what it meant to them," Gomes said of being the first Major League from Brazil. "Not just me. Rienzo, I saw him down there at one of the tournaments where I threw out a first pitch. It was cool seeing just how much we meant to them. Growing up, we always looked up to someone in whatever sport you're playing. In a way, Brazil has somebody to look up to now in myself or him for baseball.
"We've got some guys coming up now. Paulo Orlando is in big league camp with the Royals, so he's doing some things. I know a lot of guys that we're playing in the Venezuelan league or [Puerto Rican] league, they're up here now playing Rookie ball. It's making a move, man. We're slowly getting there."
Tribe acquires infielder Sellers from Dodgers
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Indians completed a minor trade Sunday, acquiring infielder Justin Sellers from the Dodgers in exchange for cash considerations.
To clear room on the 40-man roster, Cleveland designated first baseman David Cooper for assignment. Cooper -- signed to a Major League contract over the offseason -- would return to camp as a non-roster invitee for the Indians if he clears waivers.
Sellers, 28, has appeared in 82 games for Los Angeles over parts of the past three seasons, hitting .199 with a .278 on-base percentage and .301 slugging percentage. The right-handed-hitting infielder is most experienced at shortstop in the big leagues, but he has also logged time as a second and third baseman.
In 830 career Minor Leagues games, Sellers has hit .268 with a .353 OBP and .395 SLG, along with 51 home runs, 166 doubles, 361 RBIs and 460 runs scored.
"It's adding depth at the utility spot," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "We just want to try to make our organization better. I think [general manager Chris Antonetti] and those guys [in the front office] felt like this was an opportunity to do that."
The 27-year-old Cooper underwent an innovative and rare spinal-cord surgery last April, after suffering a herniated disk in his thoracic spine in a game with the Blue Jays in August of 2012. The left-handed hitter posted a .270/.310/.441 slash line in 72 games with Toronto in the 2011-12 seasons prior to the injury, which put him at risk of paralysis prior to the operation.
Quote to note
"Everything in Spring Traiing gets so exaggerated. I was laughing. I picked up a paper today and saw somebody was having a great camp with another team. I was like, 'Dang, he's pitched and inning and two-thirds.' That's what you have to guard against."
-- Indians manager Terry Francona
• Carlos Santana, who served as Cleveland's primary catcher over the past few seasons, started at third base for the second time this spring Sunday against the Mariners. In the first inning, Santana received his first ground ball of Spring Training, and made a throwing error that allowed Corey Hart to reach base. Cleveland is using this spring to evaluate whether Santana can be a viable option at third.
"You try to watch and see what he reacts to, everything, even balls that aren't hit to him," Indians manager Terry Francona said prior to Sunday's game. "Is he moving? Is he reacting to a play? Is he reacting to the bat? So far, he seems to be just fine. I know in winter ball, all the reports were that he didn't look out of position."
• The Indians plan on giving a look at utility man Ryan Raburn at first base at some point this spring. Francona indicated that it would likely be at least another week before Raburn -- mainly a corner outfielder for the Tribe -- played first in a Spring Training game.
• Utility man Jose Ramirez, who underwent surgery on his left thumb in December, is scheduled to play four innings in Tuesday morning's "B" game against the Angels. Francona noted that Ramirez's comeback was slowed recently after the infielder injured an ankle while on a treadmill.
• Indians right-hander Danny Salazar (projected to be in the Opening Day rotation) is scheduled to throw a live batting practice session Tuesday and a bullpen session Thursday. It could be at least one week until Salazar makes his Cactus League debut.