Naquin impressing early in OF competition

Francona cautions jobs not won or lost in first week

March 8th, 2016

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Indians have a vacancy in center field, and prospect Tyler Naquin has looked like a man on a mission to win that job early on this spring. Manager Terry Francona was quick to note that roster spots are not won or lost a week into Cactus League games.
"So often you see the guy that gets off to the hot start, he's the guy that everybody talks about," Francona said on Tuesday. "I don't think you make a club the first week of camp, but I don't want to take away what he's done, either. The first week, he's been very impressive, and that's good. You're looking for that."
Indians Spring Training info

In Monday's win over the Dodgers, Naquin collected three more hits -- giving him a .467 (7-for-15) showing through seven games -- and showed aggressiveness on the basepaths, taking an extra bag on a fielding error by Los Angeles. Francona said the staff will continue to closely monitor his defense, baserunning and pitch selection in the batter's box this month.
Other items of note:
• Indians reliever Joba Chamberlain, who is competing for a job as a non-roster invitee, allowed three runs in his one inning against the Dodgers on Monday. Francona said it is important to remember that Cleveland is evaluating more than Cactus League pitching lines. The staff is looking at arm speed, pitch velocity and clubhouse presence, among other things.
"We're not looking at ERAs," Francona said. "If at the end of camp, when we're making our team, if we think guys fit on our team, if they gave up runs in the early part of March there's not like a penalty. There's still a phase of working into Spring Training, getting your arm strength, getting a feel for your pitches, especially for the veteran guys."
• The Indians have been impressed with pitching prospect Mike Clevinger, but they have tried to find a way to channel the right-hander's intensity level. Francona and pitching coach Mickey Callaway have discussed finding a balance between telling Clevinger to tone it down without taking away his aggressiveness.
"He is like max effort, but that's how he pitches," Francona said. "It makes you nervous, but he's in great shape and he's game ready. ... I was watching Clevinger the other day. He was going to throw to hitters on Field 4 and he was pacing up here. But, you don't want to take away what guys do."
• The Indians will be weighing a multitude of factors when deciding on the rotation's fifth spot, which has leading candidates in Josh Tomlin and Cody Anderson. One of the factors will be the fact that Cleveland has four off-days in April and five off-days within the first 29 games. That means the fifth man might be the odd-man out for stretches early on.
"There are so many things that come into it," Francona said. "The best way I could put it is, I hope the guys pitch so well that we have some unbelievably hard decisions to make. And then, I think what you do is you do what you think is best, not just for your team, but for the organization. That's just being honest."
• Right-hander Zach McAllister is improving, but was still dealing with flu-like symptoms as of Tuesday morning. The reliever was scheduled to stop by the Indians' complex to check in with the training staff, but his workload remains limited as he recovers.