Uribe's delay has Urshela in holding pattern

February 25th, 2016

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Third baseman Juan Uribe is still sorting through visa issues, delaying his arrival at camp and putting his pending one-year contract on hold. When Uribe does officially join Cleveland, it will have a direct impact on young third baseman Giovanny Urshela.

Without going into specifics, manager Terry Francona noted that he has discussed the situation with Urshela.

"We did. I don't want to go into all of it, because we haven't really addressed [the Uribe deal officially]," Francona said on Wednesday. "I don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves. [Urshela] did a good job [this winter]."

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Francona noted that Urshela, who was Cleveland's starting third baseman as a rookie in the second half of last season, spent part of his winter training at the IMG Academy in Florida, along with teammates Jose Ramirez and Jesus Aguilar. The group went through a structured training program at the academy and also took English classes.

Urshela could be ticketed for Triple-A Columbus once the Indians officially add the 36-year-old Uribe, who needs to undergo a physical to complete his deal.

Other items of note from Wednesday:

• The Indians posted a .397 winning percentage in regular-season games in March and April over the 2013-15 seasons under Francona. In the rest of those seasons, Cleveland had a .556 winning percentage. Francona said there is no magic formula for correcting the issue.

"If you can tell me [how to fix it], we'll do it," he said. "I wish that I knew how to stay hot the whole year. When we've gotten into ... the grind of the season or rhythm, we've done OK. But it's taken us too long to get there, and we're well aware of that. What I don't want to do is beat our guys over the head with it."

• Francona expects the American League Central to be highly competitive in 2016. The Royals return as the World Series champions, and the White Sox, Tigers and Twins each made significant additions over the winter. Cleveland feels its rotation gives it an edge over other teams, but Francona knows the landscape will be difficult.

"There's not a place to take a deep breath," he said. "If you do, you're going to pay for it. Kansas City has obviously set the standard the last couple years. Detroit's Detroit. They're veteran and they're good, and they got some good additions. Minnesota really played well and they're young, so they're going to get better. I've thought Chicago continues to have good signs. It just hasn't maybe played itself out on the field yet."

• Outfielder Abraham Almonte did not participate in Tuesday's endurance test for position players and has been limited in workouts to this point. Francona noted that Almonte has been dealing with back spasms for the past week but has shown improvement in the last few days.