Barnes’ door is open
Scott Barnes did not come into camp with a chance to win a spot on the Indians’ Opening Day roster. What he did have was a chance to impress the Tribe brass and the young lefty did precisely that over the past few weeks.
Barnes’ final act came on Wednesday, when he took the mound against the Giants, his former team. All he did was blank them over three frames with four strikeouts. On Thursday, Barnes emptied his locker, packed his bags and headed down the hallway to the Minor League clubhouse after being optioned to Triple-A Columbus.
With seven shutout innings in Cactus League play under his belt, and no issues with the knee injury he suffered last season, Barnes was thrilled with how things went for him this spring. In Cactus League play, Barnes logged seven shutout innings.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better spring myself,” Barnes said. “Not knowing what to expect going into it and the way everything played out, I’m really happy with the way things ended up.”
When it’s all said and done, Barnes might end up in Cleveland at some point this summer. Had it not been for his freak knee injury last July, there’s a good chance he would’ve risen to the Majors already. Barnes needed season-ending surgery, though, so this year is now the more realistic target.
“We made sure,” Acta said, “especially [GM Chris Antonetti] made sure, that we let him know how happy and how impressed we were by the Spring Training he had. He was able to pitch the last few outings without minding his knee at all, which was something we were worrying about when he cameinto camp.
“Guys coming out of surgery, they usually worry about the knee or the shoulder — whatever it was. Especially yesterday [against the Giants], he showed no signs of even minding that knee, so he was pretty impressive.”
Some notes from Thursday…
- Barnes wasn’t the only Minor Leaguer sent packing on Thurday morning. The Indians also optioned outfielders Thomas Neal and Nick Weglarz to Triple-A Columbus. Right-hander Danny Salazar was optioned to Class A Carolina as well. The roster now stands at 55.
- Actually, never mind, it’s back up to 56. On Thursday, the Indians reacquired lefty Kelvin De La Cruz from the Rangers in exchange for cash considerations. Earlier this spring, Texas acquired De La Cruz from Cleveland in exchange for cash. I believe it was the same amount of cash headed in both directions. So, yeah, welcome back, Kelvin.
- To clear room on the 40-man roster for De La Cruz (side note: the lefty was designated for assignment to clear room for Casey Kotchman, and that’s when the Rangers traded for the pitcher), the Indians placed righty Carlos Carrasco (right elbow) on the 60-day disabled list. Carrasco will miss most or all of this season while he recovers from Tommy John surgery.
- Sinkerballer Justin Masterson had his best outing of the spring on Thursday against the White Sox. he logged four no-hit, shutout innings, ending with four strikeouts, one walk and five outs created with grounders. Masterson threw 55 pitches (33 strikes).
- Masterson noted that he threw “a couple handfuls” of changeups against Chicago. “Usually my quota is like two a year, so I filled it in pretty quick,” he said with a laugh. Masterson threw some in counts he wouldn’t throw them during the regular season. He just wanted to work some with the pitch.
- What does Acta want to see from center fielder Michael Brantley this season? He’s hoping for a .340-.350 on-base percentage. As for last year? Acta said he throws about a month and a half out the window, because Brantley was playing through pain — pain that eventually led to wrist surgery. “I saw the pain that he was playing through and everything that it took just for him to get ready,” Acta said. “It’d be unfair for me to think that the last month and a half, Michael Brantley is that guy.”
- Acta said “it’s no secret” that a few bullpen candidates (Frank Herrmann, Dan Wheeler, Chris Ray) have not been pitching great so far this spring. Jeremy Accardo and Nick Hagadone have looked the best so far. Acta said with the experienced arms, the Indians are taking track record and health into the equation, not just spring results.
- Combined the six bullpen candidates (Herrmann, Wheeler, Ray, Accardo, Hagadone and Robinson Tejeda) have posted an 8.31 ERA, giving up 24 earned runs on 43 hits over 26 innings. Accardo and Hagadone have been the best of the group, each having a 1.80 ERA in five innings apiece. Accardo and Ray each logged one clean inning on Thursday.
- Acta added that any opt out clauses that the relief options have will not be a big factor in the roster decisions at the end of the spring. Wheeler will earn a $100K bonus and have an out out of 6/1 if he isn’t on the roster 5 days before Opening Day. Ray can be released by request if he isn’t on the 40-man roster by 4/3. Accardo has an opt out of 6/1 if he’s not on the roster by then.
- As for the outfield race, Acta said “not one guy has stood out” in terms of breaking away from the pack. Well, some of them had something to say about that on Thursday. Shelley Duncan belted a 2-run homer (his third homer of the spring), Ryan Spilborghs had a couple run-scoring hits and Russ Canzler brought a few baserunners home as well.
- Canzler got the nod in left field on Thursday and Acta said he’ll continue to see some reps out there. Canzler’s ability on offense is forcing the Indians to take a close look at him this spring. Said Acta: “He’s an interesting guy. He’s a pretty advanced bat. You can tell that if he gos down to Triple-A, he’s just going to crush it again.”
- Acta has been impressed with Canzler’s ability to use the whole field when he hits. The Indians wanted to see if he was pull happy and that hasn’t been the case this spring. The manager said Canzler does a great job of using his hands and he’s been impressed with the first baseman/outfielder’s approach.
- Duncan got the nod at first base with Kotchman (back tightness) out of the lineup for the sixth straight game. After doing some dry swinging on Wednesday, Kotchman advanced to soft toss during Thursday’s workout. He’s still day to day with no real clarity over when he might return to games.
- Walking wounded updates: closer Chris Perez (strained left oblique) felt fine on Thursday and he’s a go for a bullpen session on Friday morning; lefty Rafael Perez (sore left shoulder) threw a seven-minute simulated game on Thursday and could make his game debut soon; right-hander Robinson Tejeda (calf injury) also threw a sim game on Thursday and could be back in games within the next week.
- Jose Lopez continues to push hard for one of the Tribe’s available bench jobs. He launched a three-run homer during Thursday’s game against the White Sox. If Jack Hannahan wins the third base job, and isn’t on the bench, I believe Lopez has a great shot at being on the Opening Day roster. Bats righty and plays first, second and third base.
- The Indians announced on Thursday that their Opening Day tilt against the Blue Jays on April 5 is soldout. That makes it 20 straight sellouts for Cleveland, including 19 in a row at Progressive Field. The season opener is scheduled to start at 3:05 p.m. ET.
- Former Indians outfielder Kosuke Fukudome was in the lineup for the White Sox on Thursday. Masterson induced a groundout against Fukudome in their only meeting. After his outing, Masterson referred to Fukudome as his “second favorite Japanese player.” No. 1? Takashi Saito.
PLEASE NOTE: I am flying back to Ohio on Friday morning for a five-day recharging period back home with my family. As much as I love the daily grind of the beat, it’s time to take a little break to spend time with Mrs. MLBastian and MLBastian Jr. I will be back on Tuesday night for the Spring Training stretch run.
In the meantime…