GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Throwing runners out is a big part of Yan Gomes' game, and the Indians want to make sure the veteran catcher's arm is in top form come Opening Day. That is why Gomes has been removed from the travel roster for this weekend's games against the Cubs
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Throwing runners out is a big part of Yan Gomes' game, and the Indians want to make sure the veteran catcher's arm is in top form come Opening Day. That is why Gomes has been removed from the travel roster for this weekend's games against the Cubs in Las Vegas.
Indians manager Terry Francona noted on Friday morning that Gomes is currently dealing with some minor arm soreness, so the catcher will remain in Arizona. The team's plan calls for Gomes to get a handful of at-bats in a Minor League game on Friday, and continue to go through his daily work with first-base coach and catching instructor Sandy Alomar Jr. over the next few days.
"His arm's a little sore. It's nothing," Francona said. "We don't want him to have to carry this into the season. He'll be OK."
With neither Gomes nor Roberto Perez making the trip to Las Vegas, Indians catching prospect Eric Haase will get an opportunity to start both games against the Cubs on Saturday and Sunday.
• Indians Spring Training: Info | Tickets | Schedule
"I'm looking forward to it," Haase said. "However much time left I have up here, I'm going to take advantage of it. So, whether I was staying back or going up there, I think it's a good thing."
Barring any setbacks, Gomes would likely get some at-bats as the Indians' designated hitter in Sunday's game against the Mariners in Arizona with the goal of resuming catching on Monday against the Giants. Cleveland then has a team off-day built into the schedule on Tuesday.
:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::
Last season, Gomes threw out 24 would-be basestealers in 57 chances, registering a Major League-leading 42 percent caught-stealing rate. According to Baseball Prospectus, Gomes ranked seventh in the Majors with 2.2 Throwing Runs last year, too. As a group, Cleveland's catchers allowed the fewest stolen bases (50) in baseball during the 2017 campaign.
"I would say right now," Francona said, "[even with a sore arm] he probably throws better than most of the guys in the league."
• Right-hander Danny Salazar (right shoulder inflammation) is scheduled to continue his long-toss program with the goal of advancing beyond 130 feet before gaining clearance to resume throwing off a mound. The Indians want Salazar to be confident in the strength of his arm before he advances to that next step.
"He wants to get out a little bit further before he throws a bullpen," Francona said. "I don't think he's confident yet that he can throw it with conviction, and he needs that. So, we're trying to [work with him]. The pitching coaches, the medical staff have done a great job being patient and trying to listen and build in days where he can start to get that conviction."
• Left fielder Michael Brantley (right ankle surgery in October) was scheduled to continue outfield-specific work during Friday's workout. Brantley played in a Minor League game on Wednesday, but Francona remains hesitant to say when the outfielder might make his Cactus League debut.
"I haven't even asked," Francona said. "Obviously, I care, but he's doing so well and I know he's champing at the bit. I don't want to put more pressure on the medical staff, because I know Brant's really pushing now, because he feels so good."
• Outfielder Brandon Guyer (left wrist surgery in October) has advanced through soft toss, overhand toss and other hitting drills in the batting cage with no issues. Francona said Guyer has been cleared to resume taking regular batting practice. It remains likely that Guyer will begin the season on the disabled list.
• With four games combined across Saturday and Sunday, Francona's coaching staff will be splitting up to cover all the duties. Bench coach Brad Mills, hitting coach Ty Van Burkleo, pitching coach Carl Willis, bullpen coach Scott Atchison, Major League coach Mark Budzinski and Alomar will remain in Arizona for the weekend games against the Cubs (Saturday) and Mariners (Sunday).
In Las Vegas, where the Cubs and Indians will play Saturday and Sunday, third-base coach Mike Sarbaugh will be on hand, along with assistant hitting coach Victor Rodriguez (serving as hitting coach), Major League coach Brian Sweeney (pitching coach), replay coordinator Mike Barnett (bench coach), Triple-A pitching coach Steve Karsay (bullpen coach) and Triple-A Columbus bench coach Bobby Magallanes (first-base coach).
• Righty Mike Clevinger was scratched from his scheduled start on Thursday due to illness. He is now slated to start against the Mariners on Sunday in Peoria, Ariz. As a result, right-hander Josh Tomlin's next scheduled start has been pushed back to Monday's road game against the Giants.
• Francona met with members of his coaching staff and the front office on Thursday night and they will convene again after the team gets through the five games in a three-day span, leading up to Tuesday's off-day. The group is still working toward decisions about the final bullpen spot, outfield alignment and utility job.
In Friday's game against Oakland, Giovanny Urshela got the start at first base and went 2-for-4 with a homer, now batting .545 this spring, while Erik Gonzalez started at shortstop and went 0-for-2. Urshela and Gonzalez, who are both out of Minor League options, are competing for a spot on the Tribe's bench as a utility man.
Right-hander Carlos Torres -- in camp as a non-roster invitee and vying for a bullpen job -- lasted only one-third of an inning in his latest outing against the A's. Torres was charged with five runs on four hits, including a home run, and ended with two walks and no strikeouts.
Lefty Ryan Merritt is scheduled to take the mound for the Tribe on Saturday in a 7:05 p.m. ET game against the Cubs in Las Vegas, with SportsTime Ohio carrying the contest. In Mesa, Ariz., Trevor Bauer will start for a split-squad Indians team in a 4:05 p.m. ET tilt against the Cubs on Saturday as well. Francisco Lindor and Jason Kipnis will highlight the lineup in Vegas, while regulars Jose Ramirez, Edwin Encarnacion and Yonder Alonso are in the planned lineup for the game in Arizona.
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.