Tribe set with Cs: Gomes No. 1, Perez No. 2

February 16th, 2017

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Indians plan on opening the season with as their starting catcher and as his backup. Manager Terry Francona made it clear on Thursday morning that there will be no competition between the two for the primary job behind the plate.

"No, we have two good catchers," Francona said. "We're fortunate. We have two good catchers. Gomer's been our catcher. Just for different reasons -- whether it's been injuries -- Roberto stepped in and really did a great job. So, it's my responsibility to make it work for both of them, and we will."

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The difference -- compared to most catching tandems -- is that Perez could see more innings than a typical backup. Over the past two years, Perez has filled in for Gomes on a handful of occasions, including throughout the Indians' run to the World Series in 2016. Perez dealt with his own offensive issues and health troubles last year, but his skills as a defender have stood out.

Francona said he will look for opportunities to work Perez into the mix as often as makes sense.

"The way Berto's played, we want to find games for him. Heck, yeah," Francona said. "I think he deserves that. If we have a situation where we have two catchers and we just can't find at-bats, because they're so good, man, good for us. My goodness. That's a headache I'll take any day of the week."

Perez hit .183 (.579 OPS) in 61 games last season, missing time between May-July with a broken right thumb. Gomes, who is signed through 2019 with club options through '21, hit .167 (.527 OPS) and dealt with a right shoulder injury (July) and a fractured right wrist (September). Gomes returned in time to be on the postseason rosters, but he worked as Perez's backup in the playoffs.

"It is a clean slate [for Gomes]," Francona said. "He views it now, because it's in the rear-view mirror, as a learning experience, which is good. And it should help him in the future."

Worth noting

• Francona said he and the staff have "our hearts in our throat a little bit" over having players participating in the World Baseball Classic. The manager emphasized that the team supports their decision to play for their country, but there is still going to be concern about keeping them healthy. (Team USA), (Puerto Rico), (Dominican Republic) and Perez (Puerto Rico) are among the Tribe players taking part.

"He gets it. He's a smart kid," said Francona, referring to Miller, specifically. "I'm happy for him and I'm proud of him. He wants to represent his country. I think he was even a little bit torn, just because he knows his responsibilities. But, we support him. We just all know how important he is to what we're doing."

• Francona said that every outfield conversation right now starts with, "Is healthy? Because that changes a lot." For , the current plan is to have him split time with in right field, while also getting some reps in center field this spring. Guyer would become a more realistic possibility for left in the event that Brantley's comeback from biceps surgery hits any snags.

, , and threw off the mound on Thursday morning. One day after running in an endurance test, the rest of the pitchers remained indoors for strength and conditioning work. Position players reported to Arizona on Thursday and will go through physicals and one-on-one meetings on Friday.