Indians’ Francona upbeat with month to go until spring training

Terry Francona spoke about his team prior to the annual fan fest.  

David Richard/David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

CLEVELAND — With Tribe Fest going on this weekend and players and coaches coming into town, Indians manager Terry Francona met with beat writers and covered a variety of topics as the countdown to spring training begins to ramp up.

Here are the five biggest topics that Francona discussed in 51 minutes:

TRAINING ROOM: Nick Swisher (knees) and Brandon Moss (hip) will be examined by the medical staff on Wednesday. While everyone would love to see both ready for the April 6 opener at Houston, Francona is not putting any additional pressure on them nor looking at that as a benchmark.

"Their timetable is going to be their timetable. I told Swish the other day, ‘I don’t care what opening day or first day of spring training is, when you are ready to play that’s when we are going to run you out there,’" Francona said. "Sometimes guys have these artificial barometers. It is meaningful but it is not the be all, end all. Swisher is doing fine and working hard. Hopefully that will translate into him having a good season on the field every day."

Jason Kipnis was in on Tuesday to have his finger looked like and expectations are he should be set to go at the beginning of the season.

With Swisher, Moss and Ryan Raburn rehabbing from injuries, that is one reason why the potential logjam in right field hasn’t been brought up much. If the season opened today though, it would David Murphy based on the fact that Murphy is healthy.

Francona said he envisions Moss playing first, right field and designated hitter, which adds even more flexibility.

ON THE DEFENSIVE: There will be plenty of defensive drills during spring training with emphasis on more live drills and also taking grounders when the infield is in a shift situation. Such is life for a team that led the majors in errors last year with 116.

"We’ll do a lot of live drills to completion. Instead of one day with rundowns or first and third defense everything will morph into naturally what it is," Francona said. "We kind of found ways to make errors all over the map last season. We were pretty consistent in that aspect. That is a hard way to win."

ABOUT THE ROTATION: Gavin Floyd, who was signed during the offseason, could be anywhere from second to fourth in the rotation. In a perfect world, Floyd would be in the No. 2 spot so that some of the younger arms like Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco, Danny Salazar or T.J. House can slide down a spot and have more favorable matchups.

"Last year when he was healthy across the board he had better than average major-league stuff," Francona said of Floyd. "If he can slot in there we can slow down some of the younger guys. I like the idea of our younger guys not shouldering as much of the load."

Salazar, who has gotten off to slow starts the past two seasons, is already at the team complex in Goodyear, Ariz. Spring training stats will factor very little into who is slotted where.

STATE OF THE CENTRAL: Count Francona among the many pleased that Max Scherzer is headed to the Nationals. However, Francona does agree with the consensus opinions that the White Sox have had the best offseason so far.

KEEP AN EYE ON: If you are looking for one non-roster player to possibly make the opening day roster, it could be Anthony Swarzak. The right-hander has pitched 237 1/3 innings of relief over the past three seasons along with some spot starts.

"That signing reminds me a lot of (Scott) Atchison last year. It wasn’t the sexiest signing but he has done it for a lot of years. He’ll fit right in," Francona said.

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