Indians feel no need to label starting catcher

March 10th, 2018

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Both and want to be the starting catcher for the Indians. Manager Terry Francona has tried to convey that there is no need to apply such a label, especially when neither catcher fits the description of a backup.
The way Francona views the situation, this is a 1A and 1B scenario for Cleveland's catchers, but it is not immediately clear who will wind up handling the bulk of the innings. Gomes (856 innings) caught more than Perez (580 2/3) overall last year, but Perez was behind the plate more from September through the American League Division Series (178 to 135).
"I know they both want to be [the No. 1 catcher], and I don't blame them," Francona said. "I think they both have the ability to be frontline catchers. For us, we're a better team having both of them and so that means that, I think I've said it a lot of times, we wouldn't treat it like a normal catcher, backup catcher [alignment]. We're going to balance the workload, because they both are deserving. I think it's best for our team."
Perez, who started for the Indians in Saturday's 8-8 tie with the Padres, said there is no ill will between the two competitive catchers.
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"Me and Yan, we have a great relationship," Perez said. "I know I want to catch every day. I know he wants to catch every day. But, I think at the end of the day, we're more about the team and how can we help the team win. And that's it. Of course, anybody in here wants to play every day, but we have two great catchers and we both need to play."
Injury updates
• Following a couple days off due to illness, right-hander (right shoulder inflammation) resumed throwing on Saturday, building up to around 100-120 feet in long toss, per Francona. Salazar is getting closer to being cleared for a mound session.
• Left fielder (right ankle surgery in October) should be ready to start running the bases as part of his rehab program in "the next couple days," according to Francona. Brantley has been doing outfield work and agility drills, along with unrestricted hitting.
Camp battles
won an Opening Day roster spot a year ago due to an impressive spring showing (1.252 OPS) and because Cleveland had a spot open at third base. This year, with back at third and a healthy at second, Diaz does not have a clear path to the big league roster.
In the seventh inning on Saturday, Diaz lifted a pitch from San Diego's deep to right field for a grand slam. The third baseman then added an RBI single to right field in the eighth. Diaz has shown a knack for hard-hit balls to the opposite field, and Francona believes his pull-side power will develop over time.

"With experience," Francona said, "he's going to start getting the ball out front more. And, as he does, you're going to start to see more balls get in the air."

• Veterans and Melvin Upton Jr. remain the top candidates to earn a complementary outfield role with the Tribe, and there is a chance that both could make the Opening Day roster. In Saturday's game, Davis went 0-for-3 and started in left field. Upton started in center, finished 2-for-3 with a double and was thrown out as part of a pick-off, caught-stealing play in the third.
Who's the new guy?
When arrived to Peoria Stadium on Saturday afternoon, the shortstop discovered that he did not bring his signature No. 12 jersey with him. Instead, Lindor put on a jersey without his name on the back and took the field as No. 69 against the Padres.
"I'm taking it back to my Minor League days," Lindor said with a laugh. "I just forgot my jersey. I should've worn a bigger helmet as a punishment, but there were no Minor League helmets out here, so I threw on mine."
Lindor tried to contain his smile as he stepped into the batter's box to lead off the game but let a laugh out after rounding first following a single to left field. An Indians clubhouse worker brought Lindor's No. 12 jersey to the ballpark, but the shortstop did not make the switch until after flying out in his second at-bat in the third.
"The jersey was in the game after I got my first hit," Lindor said. "But I wasn't going to change. I like No. 69. It's my new number."

Worth noting
• Francona has mentioned a handful of times this spring that catching prospect might get some exposure to the outfield in the Minors this season. With Gomes and Perez entrenched as Cleveland's catchers, the organization wants to consider other ways to possibly expedite Mejia's path to the Majors.
"That's something that we need to -- down the road -- talk about," Francona said. "We don't really know. We saw with [Carlos] Santana, the first couple times we put him in the outfield, we'd all hold our breath. And then, after a while, he was fine. I think everybody's probably a little bit different, but he's a baseball player. It wouldn't shock me if he went out there and he was OK. But that needs to be down the road a little bit."
• Right-handed reliever Zach McAllister worked two frames against the Padres on Saturday, marking his third multi-inning outing of the spring. Relievers and have also worked multiple innings in outings this spring, and Dan Otero will do the same at some point as well.
"I think it serves a lot of purposes," Francona said. "I think it's really good for their arm strength and their pitch development in Spring Training."
Up next
The Indians will send split squads to play the Brewers and Royals on Sunday afternoon. Right-hander is slated to start against Milwaukee in a 4:05 p.m. ET tilt at Goodyear Ballpark, with relievers and also penciled in to pitch. In Surprise, Ariz., lefty will start for the Tribe against Kansas City in the other 4:05 p.m. Cactus League tilt. Both games can be watched live on MLB.TV.