3/21/2014 6:54 P.M. ET
Tribe to iron out roster well ahead of season
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Indians manager Terry Francona does not want to delay the team's Opening Day roster decisions until the end of Spring Training. He planned to meet with Cleveland's front office and coaching staff this weekend to discuss the remaining moves.
"We're trying to walk through a number of things in the next couple days," Francona said on Friday morning. "We'll sit down Sunday morning and have a pretty good meeting to try to clarify a lot of things."
The Indians have at least two jobs available in the bullpen and one spot up for grabs in the starting rotation. Cleveland also needs to sort out its situation at third base and round out the two or three openings on the bench.
Playing a role in the Tribe's thinking will be that veteran Jason Giambi -- sidelined with a fractured rib in his right side -- is unlikely to be ready for the season opener. Center fielder Michael Bourn is also dealing with a left hamstring issue that may hinder his ability to be at full strength come Opening Day.
Francona said he believed that making roster decisions well ahead of Opening Day was in the best interest of the players.
"I think it's helpful on a lot of fronts," Francona said. "I think for our team, it helps, and I think for the players. Some guys are going to get news they don't want to hear. As you get closer [to Opening Day] and people are packing, it gets tougher. We respect that.
"We ask the guys in that clubhouse to be a part of the team, and, to a man, everybody has done that. So, as you get closer, it gets harder."
Tough outing complicates Carrasco's rotation bid
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Carlos Carrasco's subpar showing in his most recent outing added another layer to Cleveland's complicated rotation decision. It was a discouraging performance that may have put the right-hander's spot on the starting staff in jeopardy.
Indians manager Terry Francona said the team would not base any decision on one outing.
"The last thing you want to do," Francona said, "is when somebody either pitches really good or really bad, have a meeting that night or make a decision on somebody. That makes no sense."
Francona said he met with general manager Chris Antonetti on Thursday to discuss a variety of roster decisions and that the talks would continue this weekend. As things currently stand, Carrasco (out of options) is up against Josh Tomlin and Aaron Harang for the final spot in the rotation. Prospect Trevor Bauer also remains in camp as a dark-horse candidate.
"That's one of the spots that we need to make a decision on," Antonetti said. "I think it's safe to say that there's still a competition going on with a few guys, actually. Aaron Harang has thrown well. Josh Tomlin has thrown well. Carlos has had moments where he's thrown well. Trevor Bauer threw really well [on Thursday]. We'll have to make a decision here in the next few days."
During Wednesday's game against Oakland, Carrasco was charged with eight runs (five earned) on nine hits in 2 2/3 innings. The right-hander was scheduled to log five innings, but he was pulled as the game spiraled out of control and his pitch count climbed.
Carrasco said he got away from using his fastball effectively against the A's.
"It was a rough day; I think I tried to be too perfect," Carrasco said. "When I try to be perfect, every pitch goes out of the zone. That's what happened in my last game. ... When you try to be perfect, nothing goes well."
If he does not win a spot in the rotation, Carrasco would most likely have a home in the bullpen for Cleveland. Last season, the right-hander posted a 1.32 ERA in eight relief appearances and displayed the kind of aggressiveness that the team hoped to see from him as a starting candidate this spring.
Carrasco said his only goal right now was to earn the job in the rotation.
"This year, I just want to be a starter," Carrasco said. "Right now, all I can do is continue to work and show them I can be in the starting rotation."
Veteran Aardsma granted release from Indians
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Indians did not want to waste David Aardsma's time. Once Cleveland determined that the veteran right-hander would not make the Opening Day bullpen, the club wanted to do what they could to help Aardsma find another opportunity.
The Indians informed Aardsma of their decision on Friday morning and granted him his release.
"We'd rather tell him earlier rather than later to try to let him find a job," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "Just because we have other guys in our opinion ahead of him in this camp doesn't mean he can't pitch. It's not a fun meeting for anybody, especially him. We get that.
"We appreciated the way he handled himself. It makes those meetings harder."
Aardsma, 32, signed a Minor League contract with Cleveland on Jan. 23 and came into camp as a non-roster invitee this spring. In six Cactus League innings, the right-hander allowed three runs (two earned) on five hits with five strikeouts against no walks.
In parts of eight seasons in the Majors, Aardsma has a 4.23 ERA with 305 strikeouts and 169 walks in 298 games among stints with the Giants, Cubs, White Sox, Red Sox, Mariners, Yankees and Mets. Last year, Aardsma posted a 4.31 ERA in 43 appearances for the Mets.
The Indians needed to make a decision on Aardsma before Tuesday because the pitcher was one of three players in camp (Aaron Harang and Jason Giambi being the others) who qualified for a $100,000 retention bonus if not on the Opening Day roster. Six-year free agents who sign a Minor League deal after ending the previous season on a Major League contract are eligible.
By asking for his release, Aardsma forfeited the ability to obtain the bonus.
"We had informed him that, with where we are right now," Indians general manager Chris Antonetti said, "there were other guys in the bullpen that slotted ahead of him. So, rather than wait and play it out, we were amenable to giving him his release at this point."
Quote to note
"We don't have a lot of trick plays. We don't do anything like that. But I think we have a team that can be more versatile than a 25-man team. [Mike] Aviles. [Ryan] Raburn. Possibly Elliot Johnson. We can make a 25-man team maybe more like 27 or 28. I think that's part of how we can be good."
--Indians manager Terry Francona, on his team's positional versatility
• The Indians are poised to open the season with Carlos Santana serving as the backup catcher, as well as an option for first and third base. Santana has concentrated on third this spring, but he started behind the plate during Wednesday's game against the A's. Francona seemed pleased with Santana's performance.
"I was really encouraged," Francona said. "I thought his receiving was actually really clean. I think he enjoyed himself back there. The biggest thing was, I wanted to catch him on his legs after every inning. He popped his head in and said, 'Hey, man, I will do anything I can to help us win.' That to me, was like the best statement of all."
• Francona noted that veteran catcher Matt Treanor (in camp as a non-roster invitee) sustained a strained left hamstring during Wednesday's loss to the A's. The manager indicated that Treanor would most likely miss two or three weeks.
"Treanor hurt his hamstring the other day in the last inning of that game," Francona said. "That puts a little bit of a damper on the end of his Spring Training here."
• Pitching prospect Bauer worked five innings in a Minor League game with Triple-A Columbus on Thursday's team off-day for the Indians. Bauer allowed two runs on three hits and finished with eight strikeouts and no walks in the 80-pitch performance.
"[Pitching coach Mickey Callaway] said he was really good," Francona said. "He said he drove his fastball down in the zone. I think Trevor was also pleased. It was a really good step in the right direction. Really positive feedback from everybody that saw it."
• Indians center fielder Bourn, who is working his way back from a left hamstring strain, ran on an anti-gravity treadmill on Thursday. Bourn was slated to do some light drills on the field during Friday's workout at Cleveland's complex.