Swisher shifts to first as Tribe prepares for Bourn
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Nick Swisher pulled out his first-baseman's glove and hit the practice fields for the Indians on Tuesday morning. It was an early sign that Cleveland's players plan on accommodating the arrival of Michael Bourn.
Cleveland reached an agreement with Bourn on Monday night on a four-year contract worth $48 million, changing the look of the team's projected defensive alignment. Swisher will shift from right field to first base, and Michael Brantley and Drew Stubbs will handle left and right field, respectively. First baseman Mark Reynolds will assume the bulk of the designated-hitter duties.
Throughout Tuesday morning, manager Terry Francona met with each player to discuss their new roles.
"I talked to Brantley today, told him he's going to play left field," Francona said. "I talked to Stubbs today and told him he's going to play right field. I talked to Swish today and, obviously, we had talked before about him playing first. And Reynolds, about moving over to DH a lot and playing some first, too.
"Saying that, we still have a hole in center field."
That last remark drew laughter from Francona's audience. The manager was simply following protocol by not speaking about Bourn specifically until the center fielder completes his upcoming physical. That step could come as early as Wednesday, and Cleveland is expected to officially announce the move later this week.
Brantley, who played center field for the Tribe last season, accepted his move.
"I'm just looking forward to being by his side," Brantley said of Bourn. "It doesn't really matter to me. I'm sure he'll be in here soon. He'll be a nice player to meet."
Reynolds was also looking forward to adding Bourn to the mix.
"It's awesome," Reynolds said. "He's going to bring a lot to the table. Our outfield is going to be pretty sick, so I'm pretty excited."
Stubbs has played exclusively in center field throughout the course of his big league career, but Francona did not feel moving him to right would present an issue.
"I think it'll take him about 10 minutes," Francona said. "He's too good an outfielder. If he misses a ball in the Cactus League, that's OK. He'll be a good right fielder."