GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Indians brought veteran Juan Uribe into the fold to handle the bulk of the playing time at third base to start this season. Unfortunately, visa issues in the Dominican Republic have forced Uribe to miss roughly two weeks of Spring Training.
Indians manager Terry Francona indicated on Friday morning that Uribe is scheduled to be back in Arizona with the team on Sunday, following a trip back to the D.R. to sort through the paperwork problem. Francona admitted there is some concern over how much time Uribe has missed this spring, though it is not expected to impact his place on the Opening Day roster.
"I'd be lying if I said [there wasn't concern]," Francona said. "But, he kind of swung the bat pretty well [when he was in camp earlier]. We just need to use common sense, so we don't rush and have so much concern that we hurt him. That's not going to help."
Francona added that utility man Jose Ramirez could handle some playing time at third base in early April if the 36-year-old Uribe needs more time to be eased into the equation.
"If we need to, early in the year, Ramirez is there, and he's been playing a bunch anyway," Francona explained. "We just don't want to compound his absence by trying to play catch-up and then doing something silly. And we'll gauge where he's at when he comes back. We'll just try to get him the most at-bats that we can without overdoing it physically."
The scenario that remains unlikely -- barring an unforeseen setback -- is having third baseman Giovanny Urshela open the season with the Indians. With Uribe on the roster, and Ramirez capable of helping out at third base, the 24-year-old Urshela is likely ticketed for Triple-A Columbus.
While Uribe has garnered only six at-bats in Cactus League play, Urshela has logged 30 at-bats with a .300 average and 1.144 OPS through his 12 games. Urshela, who struggled with injuries and a subpar offensive showing last year with Cleveland, had four home runs, three doubles and 10 RBIs this spring, entering Friday's action.
"Good for him, man," Francona said. "That's another one of those things where, when the season starts, those home runs aren't going to count. But it sure is fun to watch him. He's taken a couple swings where he didn't take those swings last year. Fastball in with some decent velocity, and he's nice and short and quick to the ball. That's fun to see, because you know that's in there."