Notes: Roster cuts; Giménez closing in on SS

March 14th, 2021

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- We’ve reached the time of spring where roster cuts will happen pretty frequently. And after the Tribe announced its first group of players who were being optioned on Friday, the club announced another wave on Saturday.

Indians manager Terry Francona said prior to the Tribe’s 5-4 loss to the Giants that Gabriel Arias, Sam Hentges and Ernie Clement were optioned to Triple-A Columbus. The club also reassigned backstop Gavin Collins to the Minor League depth camp.

Arias made the most of his eight games with the Indians this spring. He hit .615 with a 1.308 OPS, one double and five RBIs. He battled a sore quad for a short spell this week, but he was able to give the big league squad a glimpse of what’s to come in the future.

“He hits the ball to all fields. He has a cannon for an arm,” Francona said. “He’s still really young, but man, there’s a lot to like.”

Clement went 6-for-11 (.545) in 11 Cactus League games with a 1.091 OPS and five RBIs. While Yu Chang appears to be the favorite to win the utility job, Clement gives the Indians another option to fill that role if needed at some point during the season.

Hentges’ most recent start came on Friday against the Dodgers, and Francona walked away impressed with his efforts. But because Minor League Spring Training games haven’t started yet, there’s no split-squad contests this year and most of the games have been fewer than nine innings, this spring isn’t the same for pitchers, who didn’t have as much time to showcase what they have.

“They feel, I don't want to say 'cheated,' but they feel shorted,” Francona said. “And we try to explain to them that as much as we love watching them pitch in this atmosphere, that's not going to define who they are. But, we do get it.”

Including his two scoreless innings on Friday, Hentges pitched to a 5.40 ERA in three appearances this spring with two walks and five strikeouts in five innings.

“With Sam, there's so much to like,” Francona said. “Basically told him, 'Sam, the day that you kick our door down and we can't keep you out of the Major Leagues, it's going to be a great day for all of us.' And that's how we feel. And we think that day is coming.”

Giménez closing in as Opening Day shortstop
All signs have been pointing toward Andrés Giménez winning the Opening Day shortstop job, but the Indians have yet to make it official. Although Francona didn’t specifically name Giménez the starter, he indicated that things are trending in that direction.

“I think part of the reason we felt comfortable enough to move Amed [Rosario to the outfield] is because of what we see in Giménez,” Francona said. “But I think, again, whether it’s injuries, I think this kid is a really bright spot for us. Without just flat out saying where he’s going to play and when, he’s done a heck of a job. We really like him.”

Plans for Sunday 'B' game
The Indians’ first off day of the spring is slated for Sunday, but Aaron Civale, Amed Rosario and Oscar Mercado will get a few more reps. Francona talked to Rosario about the idea of him seeing some time in center before camp breaks. With a "B" game scheduled for Sunday against the Reds, the Indians decided to have his first trip to the outfield be in a slightly lower-intensity game.

“I think the biggest thing we’re trying to do is have him get as comfortable as he can as quickly as he can so then we can determine where he is in his progression,” Francona said. “He’s gonna play center and hit in every inning. And then Oscar Mercado is gonna come in and DH and hit in every inning just to kind of get a few more at-bats. So, that’s good. We get a few things done there.”