Indians send Urshela to Triple-A to start '16

Indians send Urshela to Triple-A to start '16

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Indians' message to Giovanny Urshela has been consistent: Cleveland believes he has the makings of an everyday third baseman in the big leagues. That feeling did not change on Saturday, when the Tribe optioned Urshela to Triple-A Columbus.

For now, the Indians plan on opening the season with veteran Juan Uribe as their starter at third base, allowing Urshela some more development time in the Minor Leagues. Manager Terry Francona emphasized to Urshela to keep the big picture in mind.

"We walked him through it again," Francona said. "[We explained] why we signed Uribe, that we thought spending some time in Triple-A would be really good for him. You don't always expect the players to evaluate it the same, because they're supposed to think they can do it. But, he understood.

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"We told him, 'We signed a guy for a year. We want you to be ready to come be the third baseman and stay here.' I thought he had a really good camp."

Urshela, 24, has hit .306 with five home runs, 12 RBIs and a 1.165 OPS through 16 Cactus League games this spring. Last season, the young third baseman hit .225 with a .608 OPS in 81 games for the Indians, while battling a variety of injury issues.

Other items of note from Saturday:

• Right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall (right forearm tightness) was cleared by Dr. Thomas Graham to continue with game activities. Chisenhall took three at-bats in a Minor League game on Friday, met with the doctor and then headed back to the Minor League side on Saturday to get more at-bats.

"It's hard to find somebody better than Graham to see him," Francona said. "I think that's really going to help ease [Chisenhall's] mind."

• The Indians optioned outfielder Joey Butler to Columbus on Saturday as part of the latest roster reductions. Butler -- claimed off waivers from Tampa Bay over the offseason -- hit .206 in 20 Cactus League games in his bid to win an outfield job.

Butler's run-scoring single

"That outfield is still pretty crowded," Francona said. "For us, we're thrilled he has an option, so we can keep him in the organization. He's shown the ability to really get hot. I'd be surprised if he doesn't help us at some point."

• The Indians also optioned shortstop Erik Gonzalez to Columbus on Saturday. The 24-year-old Gonzalez, who is ranked No. 12 among the Indians' Top 30 prospects by MLBPipeline.com, will be the everyday shortstop for the Clippers this season.

• Cleveland re-assigned catcher Adam Moore (non-roster invitee) to Minor League camp on Saturday. He and Anthony Recker project to handle the catching duties at Columbus, providing depth behind Tribe catchers Yan Gomes and Roberto Perez.

• Outfielder Shane Robinson, who is in camp as a non-roster invitee, has not played in a Cactus League game since March 18. The Indians indicated that Robinson is currently tending to a personal situation.

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.