Indians Spring Training Report: Update of Cuts, Surprises, Busts and Injuries

Tyler DumaFeatured ColumnistMarch 17, 2014

Indians Spring Training Report: Update of Cuts, Surprises, Busts and Injuries

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    Things are starting to heat up in spring training, with just two weeks left separating the Indians and their season opener against the Oakland A's. The team's 25-man roster is starting to take shape, through the continuation of several position battles, and has already made their first round of cuts, drawing the roster down to 53 players. 

    The position battles and recent roster cuts have highlighted a number of surprise and bust candidates—which we'll highlight a little later in this article—and injuries to some key players could have major ramifications if they linger through the next few weeks.

    So, to recap the team's status to this point, here are the team's most recent cuts, surprises, busts and injuries from spring training.

     

    Stats current through Mar. 16, 2014 and are courtesy of Clevelandindians.com.

Most Recent Cuts

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    The Indians have a total of 76 players who have logged playing time this spring. Some of those players have gone down with injuries, others have been optioned to Triple-A Columbus or Single-A Carolina and a final group has been re-assigned to minor league camp.

    The following list comes courtesy of The News Herald and details the first set of cuts made by the Tribe—these moves were made on Mar. 12.

     

    Assigned to Minor League Camp

    • Francisco Lindor (SS)
    • Tyler Naquin (OF)
    • Jake Lowery (C)
    • Tony Wolters (C)
    • Roberto Perez (C)
    • Joey Wendle (INF)

     

    Optioned to Triple-A Columbus

    • Austin Adams (P)
    • T.J. House (P)
    • Jose Ramirez (INF)
    • Jesus Aguilar (1B)
    • Carlos Moncrief (OF)

     

    Optioned to Single-A Carolina

    • Erik Gonzalez (INF)

     

    In total, the Indians have 53 players left in big league camp following this round of cuts. Expect a second round to come sometime this week.

Surprises

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    Justin Sellers

    Justin Sellers was acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for cash considerations back on Mar. 2, per ESPN.com.

    At the time of the trade, the move looked like nothing more than an attempt to add minor league depth. However in the two weeks since joining the squad, Sellers has made a strong case for inclusion on the 25-man roster as the team's utility infielder.

    Over 17 at-bats since joining the team, Sellers is slashing a lofty .471/.571/.647 with three doubles, two RBI, three runs scored and a 3:4 K/BB ratio.

    The 28-year-old has a solid defensive game as well, and is capable of locking down both middle-infield positions as well as third base, and even has a couple of showings in the outfield on his minor league resume.

    He'll have a tough time beating out Elliot Johnson for one of the final open roster spots, but Sellers is putting up a great fight, nonetheless.

     

    Elliot Johnson

    Elliot Johnson may not have been the sexiest offseason pickup, but he has arguably been the most efficient.

    Last season, Johnson started the year with the Royals, slashing .179/.218/.241 with two home runs, two doubles, nine RBI, 19 runs scored, 14 stolen bases and a 49:8 K/BB ratio over 173 plate appearances. The 30-year-old was cut, and subsequently claimed off waivers by the Atlanta Braves.

    With the Braves, Johnson was significantly better, and slashed .261/.317/.359 with five doubles, 10 RBI, eight runs scored, eight stolen bases and an 18:8 K/BB ratio over 102 plate appearances.

    That mid-late season success Johnson experienced last year has carried over into the spring, where Johnson has been raking over his first 30 at-bats. In said at-bats, Johnson boasts a .367/.387/.700 slash line with two home runs, two triples, six RBI, five runs scored and an 8:1 K/BB ratio.

    Johnson was signed to a minor league contract prior to the start of spring training, so a roster spot is hardly a guarantee. However, there is an open spot on the roster for a utility man, and the Arizona prep product has a legitimate chance to make the 25-man roster should he keep playing well.

     

    Carlos Carrasco

    It really shouldn't be a surprise, but Carlos Carrasco is pitching very well this spring. The 26-year-old was a three-time member—2007, 2008 and 2009—of Baseball America's Top 100 Prospects list, but he's failed to gain any traction as a big league starter, having posted a 5.29 ERA over 48 games—40 starts—with the Indians.

    This spring, Carrasco is being given another opportunity to earn a spot in the team's starting rotation. Unlike previous seasons, Carrasco has seized the opportunity, and is besting the group of pitchers vying for the final rotational spot.

    Over seven innings pitched, the right-hander boasts an ERA of 1.29, a 1.00 WHIP and averages of 11.6 K/9, 1.3 BB/9 and 9.0 K/BB. 

    Carrasco is out of options, so whether he makes the rotation or not is irrelevant to his chances of making the team. However, at this point, the veteran righty looks to have a leg up on his competition. 

Busts

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    Michael Bourn

    Like the next player we're looking at, Michael Bourn is struggling through a horrible spring after a disappointing 2013 campaign.

    Last year, the 31-year-old center fielder posted his worst batting average and on-base percentage figures since the 2008 season. In his defense, Bourn was hurt for a portion of the 2013 season and the lasting effects of his hamstring injury can be seen in his depleted stolen base total—his 23 steals were the lowest he's managed since the 2007 season.

    Bourn came into spring training with a clean bill of health, but has yet to turn in any results indicative of that. In 28 spring at-bats, Bourn boasts a stat line including a .214/.267/.214 slash line, four runs scored and an 8:2 K/BB ratio.

    Bourn doesn't have to worry about losing his job or anything like that, but he's failed to log a single stolen base, and one has to wonder if that with all the injuries he's suffered to his lower half, that Bourn is losing a step now that he's on the wrong side of 30.

    Speaking of injuries to his lower half, Bourn left the team's Mar. 16 game with a strained left hamstring, per Paul Hoynes of The Plain Dealer

     

    David Murphy

    After a terrible 2012 season, the Indians were surely banking on a return to form this season when they signed David Murphy to a two-year, $12 million contract this offseason. Unfortunately, Murphy has gotten off to a horrendous start this spring.

    Over his first 29 at-bats, the 32-year-old is the not-so-proud owner of a .207/.303/.310 slash line, one double, one triple, three RBI, two runs scored and a 3:4 K/BB ratio.

    Barring injury, Murphy is the team's best option in right field, and will undoubtedly break camp as the starter at the position. His slow start is a bit disconcerting, however, when you consider the fact that Murphy had arguably the worst season of his big league career in 2013, and is following it up with an equally poor showing in spring training.

     

    Jesus Aguilar

    With Jason Giambi out for an extended period of time—we'll discuss this more on the next slide—the door was open for Jesus Aguilar to bring his talents to the 25-man roster.

    The 23-year old can flat out mash, posting 15 or more home runs in each of his last three seasons between the Low-A, Single-A, High-A and Double A levels. However, when given an opportunity this spring, Aguilar fell flat.

    Over 15 at-bats, the Venezuela native failed to log a single hit, and slashed .000/.286/.000 with one run scored and a 7:6 K/BB ratio.

    Aguilar didn't survive the first round of cuts, and it's very possible that the organization never viewed him as a possibility for the opening day roster. Even so, any hopes that Aguilar had of making the 25-man roster were totally dashed when he didn't get a single hit during his time spent in Goodyear.

Injuries

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    Like most teams, the Indians have seen their fair share of injuries this spring, some more serious than others.

    The following four players below have all been dealing with injuries. Three of them—Jason Giambi, Michael Bourn and Ryan Raburn—will play important roles with the team this season, while the fourth, Shaun Marcum, had an outside chance to make the rotation out of spring training.

     

    Jason Giambi

    According to The Columbus Dispatch, Jason Giambi broke a rib on his right side and will miss roughly 3-4 weeks. The 43-year-old figured to start the season in a bench role, similar to the one he played during the 2013 season.

    It's highly unlikely that Giambi breaks camp with the team, and he'll likely start the season on the DL.

    Even so, Giambi says he'll probably start swinging a bat on Mar. 25, per Cleveland.com's Paul Hoynes. In the same article, Giambi told Hoynes that, "they said in about 10 days I’ll be able to start doing things. It will hurt, but I should be able to work through it. Hey, I’m 43. I’m used to playing in pain.”

     

    Michael Bourn

    Michael Bourn will break camp as the team's starting center fielder, but only if he's healthy.

    According to Cleveland.com's Paul Hoynes, Bourn left the team's Mar. 16 outing against the Giants with a strained left hamstring. The severity of the injury, as Hoynes notes, is unknown to this point, but Bourn's status is expected to be updated on Monday, Mar. 17.

    Even if the injury proves to be minor, the team may lean toward the side of caution, as the injury occurred to the same hamstring that Bourn had surgery on last season. Consider him day-to-day for now, but don't be surprised if the team holds Bourn out for the next couple of days.

     

    Update: According to Cleveland.com's Paul Hoynes, Bourn will miss at least one week, putting his status for opening day in serious jeopardy.

     

    Shaun Marcum

    Shaun Marcum entered camp as one of the members of the group vying for the fifth spot in the Tribe's rotation. Unfortunately for Marcum, he's yet to log a single inning of work this spring.

    The 32-year-old has been dealing with the lasting effects of the surgery he underwent this offseason to alleviate the effects of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. However, Marcum did throw his first live bullpen on Mar. 14.

    According to Joey Nowak of MLB.com, Marcum thought the session went pretty well.

    It went well. Feeling pretty good. Came out feeling a lot better than I thought I would. Still got some things I need to work on mechanically, but as far as the arm, health and everything feels great right now.

    Marcum is unlikely to join the big league team for its first series against the Oakland A's, but if he's willing to take a minor league assignment, then he may have a chance to join the rotation this summer in the event of an injury.

      

    Ryan Raburn  

    Ryan Raburn has a legitimate chance to create a platoon situation in right field, where he and David Murphy would split time as the team's starter at the position. However, this will only happen if Raburn can get healthy prior to the start of regular-season games.

    Raburn left a Mar. 7 game with a knee injury. On Mar. 8, Terry Francona described the injury to Cleveland.com's Zack Meisel.

    He's got a bruise. We'll keep him inside today and let him get some treatment. I don't think we'd play him [Sunday]. He's OK. Structurally, he's fine. He just whacked it.

    Raburn had hoped to be back in the lineup on Thursday, Mar. 13, following a successful "B" game performance on Mar. 11—per MLB.com's Joey Nowak—but nature had other plans for Raburn. The 32-year-old is expecting his second child in the very near future, and left camp to be with his wife at their home in Tampa Bay, Florida, per CBSSports.com.

    When Raburn returns, expect him to join the lineup.