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Allen, Tribe ready to fill Shaw's shoes in 'pen

Veteran reliever spent 5 years with Cleveland before joining Rockies after free agency in offseason
MLB.com @MLBastian

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Bryan Shaw is searching for someone to toss his football with over at the Rockies' camp. Indians manager Terry Francona is in need of a new daily cribbage partner. Every spring, teams adjust to having players in new uniforms, but Cleveland is dealing with a major change.

For the past five years, Shaw was a constant part of the Tribe's environment. The right-hander earned a reputation as one of the most durable setup men in the game, and more than earned the trust of Francona. That, in turn, earned Shaw a lucrative free-agent contract this past offseason, leaving an empty locker that could be challenging for Cleveland to fill.

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Bryan Shaw is searching for someone to toss his football with over at the Rockies' camp. Indians manager Terry Francona is in need of a new daily cribbage partner. Every spring, teams adjust to having players in new uniforms, but Cleveland is dealing with a major change.

For the past five years, Shaw was a constant part of the Tribe's environment. The right-hander earned a reputation as one of the most durable setup men in the game, and more than earned the trust of Francona. That, in turn, earned Shaw a lucrative free-agent contract this past offseason, leaving an empty locker that could be challenging for Cleveland to fill.

"He will be missed," Francona said on Monday afternoon. "I hate to use the word, but he's a sweetheart, man. I told [Rockies manager] Bud Black when they signed him, I said, 'You got a good one.'"

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

It will take time for Shaw to be out of mind. So far this spring, he has not even been entirely out of sight.

Shaw recently swung by Cleveland's complex in Goodyear, Ariz., to deal with some remaining fantasy football business with his former teammates. Shortly before camp was in full swing for the Indians, he also met up with Tribe closer Cody Allen for dinner. Shaw has a new club and new teammates, but the relationships he built during his time with Cleveland did not disappear when he penned his name on his new contract.

"I was with the Indians for five years," Shaw said. "I was with that group of guys through a lot of good, a lot of bad. I'm definitely going to miss that group, the families, the kids over there, the players, the coaches. You're going to miss those guys and you talk to those guys still. But, now I'm about this team, the group of guys we've got here."

Shaw, who signed a three-year pact worth $27 million with Colorado, logged at least 70 appearances in each of the past five seasons with the Indians. His 378 games, 358 2/3 innings and 5,892 pitches thrown across the 2013-17 seasons rank first among Major League relievers in that span.

Allen is right behind Shaw in each of those categories. Over the past five years, the closer ranks third among big league relievers in appearances (359) and innings (344 2/3), and second in pitches thrown (5,780). In Cleveland history, Allen (386) and Shaw (378) rank first and second, respectively, in relief outings.

Video: KC@CLE: Allen ends game with record-setting strikeout

Needless to say, it was strange for Allen to walk into Cleveland's clubhouse this spring and not see his long-time teammate.

"We kind of cut our teeth in the big leagues together," Allen said. "And he's a good friend. But, I'm super happy for him."

The task now is to not dwell on losing Shaw, but find a way to replace his innings.

As things currently stand, the Indians still boast one of baseball's top late-inning duos in Allen and Andrew Miller. Behind them, right-handers Dan Otero, Zach McAllister and Nick Goody are virtual locks for jobs, along with lefty Tyler Olson. It remains to be seen how the final spot or two will shape up, but that is the bulk of the bullpen cast that led the Majors in ERA (2.89) in 2017.

Without Shaw's presence, Francona said there could be some mixing and matching based on situations and matchups this year.

Video: Miller optimistic for Indians chances in 2018

"In my opinion, we're going to have a really good bullpen," Francona said. "We may not quite know how it's configured yet or like who's throwing in what inning, but kind of like we were telling McAllister, Goody, Olson, Otero, pitching in the sixth inning could be the game on the line. We try to match up our guys where we think they can be successful."

Indians bullpen coach Scott Atchison agreed.

"Obviously, Shaw's a big loss," jhe said. "I think everybody [knows] that. But, we have a lot of variety in styles and I think that's going to allow us too kind of attack those situations and through [those innings] with multiple guys. And I think they're all up for the challenge. They're all ready to go."

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook. MLB.com reporter Thomas Harding contributed to this report.

Cleveland Indians, Cody Allen, Bryan Shaw