Rehabs for Hunter, Stammen to last into season

Indians expect relievers to increase depth once healthy

Rehabs for Hunter, Stammen to last into season

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Indians added relievers Tommy Hunter and Craig Stammen to the Spring Training mix with the knowledge that neither pitcher is likely to be ready come Opening Day. It is expected that their respective comebacks from surgery will linger into the regular season.

Hunter, who signed a one-year pact worth $2 million, is still recovering from a pair of offseason procedures to repair a core muscle injury sustained last year with the Cubs. Stammen -- in camp as a non-roster invitee -- needed surgery to repair torn flexor tendons in his right forearm after logging five appearances for the Nationals last April.

"We have Craig, who's probably not ready to start the season on time," Indians manager Terry Francona said on Thursday. "And we told him that we need to monitor him, because he has a career, not just a year. And he understands it and I think completely buys into it. And then you have Hunter probably behind him a little bit.

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"You've got two Major League pitchers that can help our bullpen. So that, as far as depth goes and being ready at different times, it'll really add something to our bullpen."

Currently, Cody Allen, Bryan Shaw, Zach McAllister and Jeff Manship appear to be the only virtual locks for the bullpen. Cleveland is also looking at lefties Kyle Crockett (40-man roster), Giovanni Soto (40-man), Joe Thatcher (non-roster), Tom Gorzelanny (non-roster) and Ross Detwiler (non-roster), as well as righties Shawn Armstrong (40-man), Austin Adams (40-man), Dan Otero (40-man) and Joba Chamberlain (non-roster), among others.

• Allen, Shaw can expect more spring innings

Other items of note from Thursday:

• Minor League catcher Tony Wolters, who was designated for assignment on Friday in order to clear a spot for Hunter on the Tribe's 40-man roster, was claimed off waivers by the Rockies. Francona played a key role in Cleveland's decision to convert Wolters from a middle infielder into a catcher in 2013.

"It was surprising how quickly he took to it," Francona said. "He really took to it well. I think we thought he would, because of his makeup and things like that. He's a left-handed-hitting catcher, so there's a reason we wanted him to do it. But, things happen and changes are made, or players come in. I think we're all glad he's going to get another chance."

• Outfielder Michael Brantley took a day off from swinging a bat on Thursday, but continues to progress well in his comeback from November surgery on his right shoulder. Said Francona: "He's doing really well, which is not a surprise. ... I hate to say he's ahead of schedule, because I don't think that's fair to him. He's got a lot of hurdles."

• Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti and Francona held their individual meetings with the team's pitchers and catchers on Thursday, addressing goals and expectations for the spring and regular season. Francona said it was "probably the best set of one-on-ones we've had since I've been here."

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