Indians' rotation race likely to last through camp's final week

Francona eager to see how pitchers respond to pressure

Indians' rotation race likely to last through camp's final week

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Indians have yet to reveal their choices for the two openings in their rotation, and the competition looks like it will last into the final week of Spring Training.

Indians manager Terry Francona does not put too much stock in Cactus League pitching lines, but he said it would be important to see how Danny Salazar, TJ House, Zach McAllister and Josh Tomlin respond to the increased pressure in their upcoming outings.

"I laugh when people say, 'Well, you're putting pressure on a guy," Francona said. "Well, if you can't handle the last week of Spring Training, there's a pretty good chance when [Miguel] Cabrera's hitting, it's not going to be any better. So, I think it's a very good test and I view it in a positive way. Saying that, it's not just how many runs they give up, but maybe how they handle some of that."

McAllister, Francona on start

Here are some more notes from Thursday morning:

• Outfielder Michael Bourn had no stolen bases and just one stolen-base attempt this spring, entering Thursday. Francona said Bourn's legs are strong and the center fielder is healthy, but the veteran has been conserving for the regular season.

"I think he feels like he's equipped to go out there and play the way he wants to," Francona said. "The last thing we're going to tell a nine-year veteran is, 'Hey, run, and beat yourself up.' We have talked to him about [the lack of stolen bases], but he said he feels good."

• Second baseman Jason Kipnis returned to the starting lineup for the Indians on Thursday after missing the previous seven games with a back issue. All-Star Michael Brantley was out of the lineup Thursday for the third consecutive game due to tightness in his back, too. Francona said Brantley might be out for a couple more games.

Outlook: Kipnis, 2B, CLE

• Left-hander Scott Downs, who was informed earlier this week that he will not be on the Opening Day roster, is discussing his situation with his family and agent. The 39-year-old lefty wants to explore what Major League jobs might exist before potentially accepting an assignment to Triple-A Columbus with Cleveland.

• Outfielder Nick Swisher added sliding on a mat to his rehab program, following another round of baserunning drills on Wednesday. The 34-year-old veteran (double knee surgery in August) was scheduled to get at-bats in a Minor League game on Thursday.

• Right-hander Shaun Marcum rejoined the Indians on Thursday after spending time at home in Kansas City with his wife for the birth of their third son. Marcum will remain in big league camp for now, while mulling whether to accept a Triple-A assignment with the Indians.

• On Thursday, the Indians released the following Minor League players: Ryan Battaglia, Torsten Boss, Luis DeJesus, Ramon Rodriguez, Shane Rowland and Juan Santana.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.