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."
Tribe easing slowed Smith into camp
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Indians held their first workout for pitchers and catchers on Tuesday, but it quickly became clear that setup man Joe Smith was on a different program.
Cleveland manager Terry Francona indicated that Smith is currently working through a minor left oblique issue, and the team is being cautious out of the gates. According to Francona, Smith is likely a week or two behind the rest of the team's pitchers.
"We do not want this to become a big abdominal strain," Francona said. "We will slow play it, because of the length of Spring Training. It's nothing serious, but we are not going to let this be something serious."
Smith was able to play catch on flat ground on Tuesday.
Over the past two years, the 28-year-old sidearmer has been one of Cleveland's most reliable options out of the bullpen. Smith has worked in 143 games over that period, going 10-7 with a 2.49 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP across 134 innings. Last year, he went 7-4 with a 2.96 ERA in 72 appearances.
This past offseason, Smith avoided arbitration with a one-year, $3.15 million contract that includes a $25,000 bonus for pitching in 65 games.
Francona emphasized that the Indians will take every precaution to make sure Smith is ready for the regular season.
"With those types of injuries," Francona said, "when they say they're OK, you usually probably wait a couple days. Because when they come back, they can come back with a vengeance, and we really don't need to do that."
Quote to note
"General manager of the year, in my opinion. Chris Antonetti, man. He has just made moves that no one in a million years thought would happen here."
-- Indians first baseman Nick Swisher
• Right-handers Blake Wood and Chen-Chang Lee are in camp with the Indians, but neither will figure into the Opening Day plans. Both Wood and Lee are eight months removed from Tommy John elbow surgery, and the hope is that they will be able to begin working in simulated games by extended spring training.
• Michael Bourn (42 stolen bases), Jason Kipnis (31) and Drew Stubbs (30) each stole at least 30 bases in 2012. The Indians have not had three players with 30 or more stolen bases in the same season since 1987 (Brett Butler, Joe Carter, Julio Franco). The only other time Cleveland accomplished the feat was in 1917 (Ray Chapman, Braggo Roth, Tris Speaker).
• Jason Giambi, who signed a Minor League contract with the Indians on Saturday, will likely be in camp with the club on Wednesday. Cleveland is giving the 42-year-old Giambi the chance to make the team as a part-time designated hitter and pinch-hitter.