With 22 non-roster invitees in camp for Indians spring training, how many have a shot at making the opening day roster?
Last year it ended up being three — Scott Atchison, Elliot Johnson and Nyjer Morgan. Of the three, only Atchison was on the roster at the end of the season. Atchison, who made 70 appearances en route to a 6-0 record with 2.75 ERA, had such an impact that he received a contract extension with an option for 2016 in August.
Said Terry Francona of the non-roster situation last month during Tribe Fest: "We have some guys that are coming in on non-roster. I think it will be healthy for our team to have some guys that are pitching. I know it’s not the easiest way to come into a camp, especially for a veteran guy, but it’ll be good for our team."
With workouts for pitchers and catchers starting on Friday, the early favorite from the non-roster pool to make an impact once again comes from the bullpen. Anthony Swarzak signed a minor-league deal in January but has the second-most relief innings in the majors the past three seasons. With Minnesota, the right-hander pitched in 142 games, including nine starts. In his 133 relief appearances, he was 8-4 with a 3.60 ERA.
"It reminds me a lot of Atchison. I don’t think that was the sexiest singing last year, but the guys that knew Atch had a feeling that he could help us," Francona said. "He’ll fit right in. If he goes for like 10 minutes without pitching, man, it’s like he breaks out in hives."
Another possibility is Scott Downs, who is fifth among left-handed pitchers with 619 appearances and has held left-handed batters to a .219 average.
Of the nine non-roster infielders and outfielders, the most attention will be on shortstop Francisco Lindor as everyone tries to forecast when he will be called up. In his first spring training in big-league camp last year Lindor played in 11 games and was 6-for-19 with a home run and five RBI. With the way the Indians have brought Lindor along, the only way to imagine him making the Opening Day roster is if injuries happened to both Jose Ramirez and Mike Aviles.
Of the outfielders, keep an eye on James Ramsey. He was in Cleveland last month for the Winter Development Program. After being acquired from St. Louis in the Justin Masterson trade, Ramsey batted .284 with three home runs and 16 RBI at Columbus. According to STATS LLC, Ramsey led the Clippers in RBI, was third in batting average and fourth in on-base percentage once he joined the team.
Here is a list of spring invitees:
Pitchers (10) — Bruce Chen, Scott Downs, Jeff Manship, Shaun Marcum, Nick Maronde, Dustin Molleken, Bryan Price, Will Roberts, Michael Roth, Anthony Swarzak
Catchers (3) — Brett Hayes, Jake Lowery, Adam Moore
Infielders (5) — Audy Ciriaco, Francisco Lindor, Michael Martinez, Ryan Rohlinger, Jerry Sands
Outfielders (4) — Destin Hood, Tyler Naquin, James Ramsey, Jordan Smith