SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Indians manager Terry Francona sat at the locker adjacent to the one belonging to Rob Refsnyder earlier this week, telling the outfielder to remain patient. A decision will be coming on Cleveland's outfield alignment, but there are still unsettled situations in play.The Indians are closely monitoring the
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Indians manager Terry Francona sat at the locker adjacent to the one belonging to Rob Refsnyder earlier this week, telling the outfielder to remain patient. A decision will be coming on Cleveland's outfield alignment, but there are still unsettled situations in play.
The Indians are closely monitoring the respective comebacks of Brandon Guyer (left wrist surgery in October) and Michael Brantley (right ankle surgery in October), who are both pushing hard in the final week to make a bid for the Opening Day roster. Refsnyder and Tyler Naquin remain in camp and their place on the roster will be determined by the status of Guyer or Brantley, or both.
Guyer made his Cactus League debut in Saturday's 10-3 win over the Rangers, going 1-for-3 with a hit-by-pitch, while manning left field for the Tribe. He singled in his first at-bat against lefty Cole Hamels, and that is Guyer's role -- to hit left-handers. Francona said that Refsnyder, who is out of Minor League options, could fit that same profile (corner outfielder used against lefties), if Guyer is not ready for Opening Day.
• Indians Spring Training info | Tickets | Schedule
"I think he has the ability to be a strong kid," Francona said, "and do some damage against left-handers."
:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::
Guyer said he still does not feel 100 percent, so he is not sure how realistic it will be for him to be included on the Opening Day roster.
"The physical aspect is still the biggest aspect for me," Guyer said. "It feels good, but I don't know. [With] a diving catch or something like that, I don't know how that's going to be. But, to feel like it does right now, especially after having a setback a couple of weeks ago, I didn't think I'd be here. To even have a chance for it to be Opening Day, it's great."
If Brantley is not deemed ready for the start of the season, Naquin would also look like a natural fit for the roster, which already projects to include outfielders Bradley Zimmer, Lonnie Chisenhall and Rajai Davis. Naquin has the ability to play all three outfield positions and was third in American League Rookie of the Year voting just two years ago.
"He never backs down, boy, which we love," Francona said of Naquin. "Even [Friday] night, he gets an at-bat late and rifles a ball down the right-field line. That's always been something we've admired in his game."
Kluber's final tune-up
Indians ace Corey Kluber put the finishing touches on an impressive spring on Saturday, when he took on the Rangers in his final outing before facing the Mariners on Opening Day on Thursday in Seattle. Kluber allowed two runs on three hits and ended with six strikeouts against two walks in six innnigs.
In five Cactus League starts this spring, Kluber turned in a 2.29 ERA with 25 strikeouts, 11 hits allowed and five walks in 19 2/3 innings.
"I'm right where I need to be," Kluber said. "I went through the normal progressions this spring -- pitches, up and down, things like that. I feel like we got everything mechanically, delivery, pitch-wise where we like it to be. So, [the spring was] pretty good."
• Brantley was originally scheduled to play in a Minor League game on Saturday, but Francona said the team altered his schedule due to the left fielder having played in the night game on Friday. Brantley was slated to go through a "workout day" on Saturday with his sights set on another Cactus League game Sunday.
"I think Brant looks good," Francona said. "If you watch real close, I think you can see ... the gait's not quite as smooth maybe as we've seen. But, that's only if you're really searching. I think he's done a great job. I think he's in a great place. Whether it's Opening Day or a week later, in the grand scheme of things, it's so important to get him back and get him back healthy.
"And it's not that we don't value him for the first week of the season -- we do. But, I think in the grand scheme of things, looking at the bigger picture, it's really exciting."
• Infielder Gio Urshela (right hamstring) is doing better and Francona said the utility man will likely return to game action before camp breaks. Urshela is still expected to open the regular season on the disabled list.
• In the sixth inning of Friday's 6-1 win over the D-backs, Zimmer put his speed on full display. First, Zimmer stole second base with Francisco Lindor batting. Then, when Lindor flew out to deep right field, Zimmer tagged up and timed his jump just perfectly, scoring from second base on the sacrifice fly.
"That was unbelievable," Francona said. "I had a really good view. You guys probably did, too. He smelled it coming around second. That was really fun to watch."
• In the fourth inning of Saturday's game against the Rangers, Indians utility man Erik Gonzalez hit a sharp foul ball into the Texas dugout, where Triple-A Round Rock hitting coach Howard Johnson was struck in the face. Johnson was tended to in the dugout by the Rangers' medical staff before being carted off the field and transported to a local hospital.
"When I hit the ball, I was looking at the dugout and I saw him, he was facing the field -- the other way," Gonzalez said. "I felt a little frustrated in that moment right there. I [finished] the at-bat, but my mind wasn't in the moment at home plate, you know? I was thinking too much about him, what happened. I'm so sorry for that."
• Right-hander Mike Clevinger, who is lined up to be the Indians' fourth starter, is scheduled to pitch on Wednesday, which is an off-day before Thursday's season-opener against the Mariners. Clevinger will pitch in a Minor League game and then join the team in Seattle for Opening Day.
Right-hander Josh Tomlin is scheduled to take the mound on Sunday, when the Indians host the Reds in a 3:05 p.m. ET Cactus League game at Goodyear Ballpark. Tomlin is lined up to be Cleveland's fifth starter to open the season. Closer Cody Allen, relief ace Andrew Miller and relievers Zach McAllister and Tyler Olson are also penciled in to pitch for the Tribe. The game can be heard on an audio webcast.
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.