Indians hope time at Triple-A will help reliever Lee

Top prospect Lindor also re-assigned

Indians hope time at Triple-A will help reliever Lee

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Indians manager Terry Francona is holding out faith that right-hander C.C. Lee will someday develop into a fixture within the Tribe's bullpen. It became clear to Cleveland's staff this spring that Lee still has room to grow before returning to the big leagues.

On Thursday, Lee was optioned to Triple-A Columbus as part of the latest round of roster reductions for the ballclub. The Indians also re-assigned top prospect Francisco Lindor to Minor League camp, along with infielder Audy Ciriaco, outfielder Destin Hood, righty Dustin Molleken, catcher Adam Moore, righty Bryan Price and lefty Michael Roth.

The Indians now have 40 players left in Major League camp.

"We actually spent a lot of time with him," Francona said of Lee. "We want him to believe in himself as much as I think we believe in him. It seems like at every level he's been, it takes him a little while to get acclimated and then he really starts to tear it up, and we haven't seen that yet at the Major Leagues.

"He even said, 'I feel like if I make a pitch in the Minor Leagues, I get people out. And if I make it here, I don't always get them out.' I don't necessarily agree with that. I think that if he makes a pitch, he's going to get people out, but that shows that he's just not quite yet feeling like he belongs."

The 28-year-old Lee appeared in 37 games for the Indians last season, turning in a 4.50 ERA with 26 strikeouts and 12 walks in 28 innings. In seven Cactus League games this spring, the right-hander had a 5.14 ERA with five walks, four strikeouts and six hits allowed in seven innings.

"As he figures it out, he'll be a welcome addition," Francona said.

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.