<![CDATA[While games and stats aren't particularly important in Spring Training, especially in the first week, the Indians had a few important things happen during the first week of games. While he won't play in a game quite yet, Michael Brantley started taking live batting practice just before games began last week and has yet to have a set back. At the current rate, there is cautious optimism that he could be playing for the Indians on Opening Day.
In other injury news, Jason Kipnis was scheduled to play in game two against Mesa (on 2/26), but was pulled out with shoulder soreness. After a couple days off, he has returned to take batting practice on Wednesday (3/1) and is expected to return to the team for games within the next week.
The rest of the staff to this point has remained healthy, which is a particularly good thing as many prepare to head off to the World Baseball Classic next week. Andrew Miller may be the player who this affects the most as he will play for team USA, a strong favorite in the tournament. The lefty has pitched in three games so far and could miss much of the month. Carlos Santana, playing for the Dominican Republic and Francisco Lindor, playing for Puerto Rico, could also be gone awhile, but given their positions and their role with their WBC club, there shouldn’t be much difference than had they stayed in Goodyear.
Unlike most seasons, there are very few roster competitions going on currently in Indians camp. Terry Francona narrowed the options for utility man down to three recently, saying the job will go to Erik Gonzalez, Ronny Rodriguez or Michael Martinez, but a few other options remain in camp, including Yandy Diaz and Giovanny Urshela, who will be playing for Colombia in the WBC. Six of the seven bullpen spots have also already been claimed with Shawn Armstrong likely holding the current lead on the last spot. There are still too many pitchers in camp to name here still up for the running for that job, but Joseph Colon and Perci Garner, who each pitched at the end of last season with the Indians, could be in the running. All three have pitched in two games so far this Spring and are yet to allow a run.
In the outfield, there isn’t necessarily a competition as the Indians are expected to break camp with Brantley, Abraham Almonte, Tyler Naquin, Brandon Guyer and Lonnie Chisenhall all on roster, but things could get shaken up if Brantley misses more time than expected or if the team decides Naquin hasn’t made all the adjustments he needs to. Here, prospects Bradley Zimmer and Greg Allen have been playing in nearly every game, but a player more likely to break through with the team early on could be Daniel Robertson. He’s been making solid contact and playing very well defensively including an incredible assist during game one. While he may not be the name everyone is clamoring for, it’s unlikely that the Indians would begin Zimmer’s service time early due to injury and Austin Jackson is yet to play a game. For the moment, we can just keep a closer eye on Robertson to see if he continues this level of play.
Coming up, the Indians have an off day on March 7th, but still will fit seven games into the week with a split squad on Tuesday against Milwaukee at home and San Francisco on the road. They will play at the Giants twice next week with other home games against the Angels, Royals and Padres. Corey Kluber, Cody Allen and Josh Tomlin have all been kept out of games to this point to keep their Spring innings down with the increased number of games this year, but all three are expected to pitch in the upcoming week. To this point, they have been getting ready by pitching simulated games at the development complex.]]>