GOODYEAR, Ariz. — If you give Terry Francona the choice between having another arm in the bullpen or having another position player on the bench, almost every time he is going to take the arm. That ended up again being the case on Thursday as the Indians ended up making their final decisions to get to the 25-man roster.
Austin Adams has claimed the final spot on the opening day roster after infielder Jesus Aguilar was optioned to Triple-A Columbus. Infielder Michael Martinez will remain with the team until Saturday and will then also be heading to Columbus.
With Adams making the squad, the Indians will carry 13 pitchers, including eight relievers. Since they need a fifth starter only twice the first three weeks, Zach McAllister could also be used out of the bullpen.
"Sometimes you need a pitcher not just to win a game but set up our staff for the upcoming week. If you overdo your bullpen early it can set you back for the next couple games," Francona said.
Francona also doesn’t want to overtax a bullpen that saw four relievers make 70 or more appearances last season.
Adams has appeared in nine Cactus League games and is 2-0 with a 7.27 ERA. The right-hander had three stints with the Indians last season and made six appearances, allowing seven earned runs in seven innings.
Francona said that one of the reasons Adams made it to the roster was that he has a big arm and has been working diligently on his breaking ball.
"Having him break camp with us on the roster is a huge honor and can help his confidence," Francona said. "He’s a young pitcher with a huge arm and he’s a guy at some point who can help us."
Aguilar batted .381 during the spring with a home run and five RBI. However he did not do well in limited stints with the Indians last year and the thought is it would be better for him to play every day in Columbus than be sitting on the bench.
Martinez was a non-roster invite who leads the team in Cactus League games (25) while batting .263. Martinez added some versatility as a middle infielder but is limited offensively and might have been only used as a pinch-runner. With Mike Aviles able to play three positions in the infield and all the outfield spots, the Indians had better options.
General manager Chris Antonetti did not rule out the possibility of a trade or looking to the waiver wire for a possible upgrade.
Anthony Swarzak is the only non-roster invite who ended up making it. He will be added to the 40-man roster when Gavin Floyd, who had elbow surgery on March 17, is placed on the 60-day disabled list.
The Indians also confirmed that Zach Walters will officially head to the 15-day disabled list due to an oblique strain. He suffered the injury on March 12 while taking a swing during a game against Kansas City. With his versatility in the infield and outfield, there is a possibility he could be available by the third week of the season.
Nick Swisher (bi-lateral knee surgery), who might not be ready until mid-May, will also be on the DL.
Of the 25 on the Opening Day roster, 10 were not on it when the Tribe began last season in Oakland. Only two though are newcomers who did not play for the team last year — Swarzak and outfielder Brandon Moss.
Here’s a look at the opening day roster:
Rotation: Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer, Zach McAllister, TJ House
Bullpen: Austin Adams, Cody Allen, Scott Atchison, Kyle Crockett, Nick Hagadone, Marc Rzepczynski, Bryan Shaw, Anthony Swarzak.
Catchers: Yan Gomes, Roberto Perez
Infielders: Carlos Santana, Jason Kipnis, Jose Ramirez, Lonnie Chisenhall, Mike Aviles
Outfielders: Michael Brantley, Michael Bourn, Brandon Moss, David Murphy, Ryan Raburn
Disabled list: Gavin Floyd (60-day, elbow), Nick Swisher (15-day, knee), Zach Walters (15-day, right abdominal strain).