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Vets Belisle, Torres battling for bullpen spot

MLB.com @MLBastian

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Indians will make their decision on the makeup of the Opening Day bullpen by this weekend. That was the message that manager Terry Francona delivered to veterans Matt Belisle and Carlos Torres on Thursday morning.

As things currently stand, Cleveland has six jobs accounted for in its projected bullpen, leaving one or two spots available, depending on whether Francona begins the year with a seven- or eight-man relief corps. Francona noted that a decision about lefty Ryan Merritt (out of Minor League options) will likely come on Friday, with more to follow on Saturday related to Belisle and Torres.

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GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Indians will make their decision on the makeup of the Opening Day bullpen by this weekend. That was the message that manager Terry Francona delivered to veterans Matt Belisle and Carlos Torres on Thursday morning.

As things currently stand, Cleveland has six jobs accounted for in its projected bullpen, leaving one or two spots available, depending on whether Francona begins the year with a seven- or eight-man relief corps. Francona noted that a decision about lefty Ryan Merritt (out of Minor League options) will likely come on Friday, with more to follow on Saturday related to Belisle and Torres.

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"I think they come as advertised," Francona said of the two right-handers. "There's been some inconsistencies from both guys. There's been some walks from Torres. We saw [that on Wednesday] night with Belisle. That's where, as long as they're healthy, you kind of can look at track record."

Video: DET@MIN: Belisle shuts down the Tigers in the 9th

Belisle, who is in camp as a non-roster invitee, posted a 4.03 ERA with 54 strikeouts and 22 walks in 60 1/3 innings for the Twins last season. The 37-year-old righty was much better down the stretch, posting a 1.50 ERA with a .150 opponents' average, nine saves, 32 strikeouts and five walks in his final 30 innings over the final three months. Torres (also a non-roster invitee) compiled a 3.43 ERA in 155 innings over the past two years with the Brewers.

"In doing our homework, you hear how professional [Belisle] is, and we've seen nothing but that," Francona said. "He didn't want to hear anything about his contract today. It was all about Opening Day. I think he means that. He's genuine in what he brings. With Torres, it's kind of that cutter-usage and the ability to be available pretty much every day. That's what the Brewers guys said so much -- that he prided himself on being available -- and that fits in so well with what our guys do."

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Camp battles
The Indians are now operating under the assumption that Giovanny Urshela (mild right hamstring strain) will open the season on the 10-day disabled list. Under the circumstances, Francona instructed Erik Gonzalez to spend the rest of the spring preparing as though he will break camp as Cleveland's utility man. Urshela and Gonzalez are both out of Minor League options and entered camp as the main contenders for that bench job.

Even with veteran outfielder Rajai Davis being told he will be on the Opening Day roster, there could be one or two outfield jobs open. That depends on whether Michael Brantley (right ankle) is deemed ready for the start of the season. Due to that situation being unsettled, Francona told outfielders Tyler Naquin and Rob Refsnyder to "hang in there," while the team continues to sort through the outfield alignment.

Video: CLE@CHC: Davis on why he doesn't need a pinch-runner

Injury updates
• Francona said Brandon Guyer (left wrist) is doing well, but the manager is not sure if there is enough time for the outfielder to be ready in time for Opening Day. The team's priority for Guyer, who has played in a handful of Minor League games, is getting the outfielder at-bats.

"Health-wise, he's doing a terrific job. He feels really good," Francona said. "I think he's chomping at the bit and would like to [return for Opening Day]. I think we need to talk through that a little bit more. I think we're putting the cart a little ahead of the horse. Let's let him play a little bit more."

• Right-hander Carlos Carrasco left his start on Wednesday night in the fifth inning after being struck on the left foot by a sharp comebacker off the bat of Kansas City's Cheslor Cuthbert. On Thursday, Francona said Carrasco was doing fine and was not expected to miss any time.

• Righty Danny Salazar (right shoulder) was scheduled to throw off a mound during Thursday's team workout. There is still no established timetable for Salazar's return to game action.

Worth noting
• Francona on Wednesday described center fielder Greg Allen as a player who "can help you win, while he's developing." Even with that said, the Indians optioned the fleet-footed outfielder to Triple-A Columbus on Thursday in order to get him regular playing time early in the season.

"If something ever happens, we can always bring him back," Francona said. "I think we valued him getting on a routine where he's not just getting one at-bat. Early in camp, he got so many at-bats that we almost had to slow him down. Lately, it's been more one at-bat. He needs to go play center field and get the repetitions of playing defense and everything."

• Right-hander Alexi Ogando was reassigned to Minor League camp on Thursday and will be stretched out as a starter with Triple-A Columbus. The Indians also optioned righty Ben Taylor to Triple-A and will have him get multi-inning outings while in the Minors to help with his pitch development.

• Right-hander Evan Marshall and lefty Jeff Beliveau, who are both in camp as non-roster invitees on Minor League contracts, were informed that they will not be on the Opening Day roster. Both pitchers will remain in big league camp for the time being.

Up next
Right-hander Mike Clevinger is scheduled to take the ball for the Tribe in a 9:05 p.m. ET Cactus League clash with the D-backs on Friday at Goodyear Ballpark. Listen live on Gameday Audio. Arizona will counter with lefty Patrick Corbin. In five starts this spring, Clevinger has a 4.73 ERA with 18 strikeouts against four walks in 13 1/3 innings.

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.

Cleveland Indians, Matt Belisle, Carlos Torres