Notes: Rodriguez reassigned; OF outlook

July 18th, 2020

CLEVELAND -- The Indians are inching closer to their 30-man roster but have less than a week left to move seven more people over to the Lake County camp.

The Indians informed , , and earlier in the week that they’d be heading to the Eastlake camp, and on Saturday afternoon, was added to the list. Now, 37 remain in contention for an Opening Day roster spot.

When Spring Training was shut down in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Rodriguez headed home. He sustained a back injury and was unable to get treatment during the 3 1/2-month break. When he arrived at camp, the Indians immediately started treating the injury, but Rodriguez was unable to get himself fully ramped up in time to be able to break camp with the club. He threw two bullpen sessions over the past week but never made it into intrasquad action.

“Yeah, he’s doing really well,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “And the trainers were comfortable that he had the program he was on, and now we’ll get him started to get stretched out.”

Rodriguez, who turns 27 next weekend, was with the Indians for only a brief period last year, but he made a strong impression on his new organization. When the Indians’ rotation was hit with injuries, Rodriguez showed off the potential of his big arm in eight starts before a shoulder injury sidelined him. When he rejoined the big league team in September, he made two relief appearances, allowing one run in three frames.

Because of Cleveland’s starting pitching depth, Rodriguez wasn’t necessarily in the running to break the five-man rotation, but he was certainly an arm the team could’ve used out of the bullpen. Now, he’ll continue to get repetitions across town to be ready for when the Indians call.

“The hope is he can help us at some point this year because there was so much to like last year,” Francona said. “And he’s made so many delivery adjustments, and he’s really trying to do it and he worked so hard. So now to get him on a routine will really be good for him.”

The outfield outlook
The Indians still have 10 outfielders to sift through before Opening Day. and appear to be locks to make the 30-man roster, but how exactly will they fit? It was assumed that the two would be battling for who would get the majority of starts in the outfield and who would assume more of a DH role this year, but because Reyes had to miss a few days for COVID-19 testing and from tweaking his back, he hasn’t had the chance to see as much defensive time as the team would’ve liked.

“In a ramped-up camp, missing five days has probably made it a little harder,” Francona said. “He has played the outfield a few times. My hope is that that trend can continue a little bit. I think it gives us a stronger lineup if we’re able to run him out to either left or right at least some of the time.”

Santana has had a few defensive miscues during camp but has started to settle in at the plate. He launched a grand slam earlier last week and went 2-for-2 against on Thursday.

“I think he’s starting to get more comfortable at the plate,” Francona said. “I mean, he’s a guy with a track record that if he gets hot, he gets real hot. We’re trying to figure out where he fits. We’re trying to figure out where everybody fits.

“We got a lot of choices, and we’ve got a lot of tough decisions to make. I don’t want to rate the field right now because I don’t think that’s fair to everybody. We’ll be conscientious, like always, with our decisions.”

Luplow back to live ABs
is another piece to this confusing outfield puzzle. He has missed the majority of scrimmages, getting one intrasquad appearance as a DH last week because of a sore back. After an MRI on Monday revealed no serious injuries, he was instructed to take three to five more days off before getting back to live at-bats.

While half of the team traveled to Pittsburgh on Saturday, the rest stayed home for a simulated game. Luplow was able to get three at-bats off starter . Francona said that Luplow’s back held up well during the game and the next step will be for him to serve as DH on Sunday in an intrasquad game at Progressive Field.