GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- It is no secret that Indians manager Terry Francona likes to stockpile as many relievers as possible. While it is undetermined whether Cleveland will again open a season with an eight-man bullpen, it looks like the team will carry three left-handers.
As things currently stand, lefty relievers Marc Rzepczynski, Nick Hagadone and Kyle Crockett appear to be virutal locks for the Tribe's relief corps. The Indians have also added veteran southpaws Scott Downs and Bruce Chen as non-roster invitees, giving the club even more left-handed depth.
"It was great," Francona said of carrying three lefties last season. "They all did different things, but also, when push came to shove, if a guy had pitched a couple days in a row, you had another guy. We never felt like we needed to stay away from any of them, because they all did very well. It was very helpful. I thought it was a huge advantage."
Rzepczynski turned in a 2.74 ERA in 73 games last year, but only threw 46 innings because he was primarily used as a left-handed specialist (left-handed hitters posted a .441 OPS against him). The presence of Hagadone (2.70 ERA in 35 games) and Crockett (1.80 ERA in 43 games) down the stretch allowed Francona to rely less on Rzepczynski, too.
"When Crock and Hags got here, it definitely solidified things," Rzepczynski said. "It helped to know who we were going to get and in what inning for the most part, and never getting overused. [Having three leties] gives us the chance to take a day if we need it, but we still have two options instead of just one or none."