Indians eye bounceback campaign

Indians eye bounceback campaign

WINTER HAVEN -- The equipment trucks have made it to Spring Training. So have the coaches and front office staffers.

Bring on the players.

Indians pitchers and catchers reported today and position players will report Feb. 20, as the Tribe looks to rebound from a disappointing 78-84 finish to the '06 season. Some new bodies will inhabit Chain of Lakes Park, but the same big dreams of winning an American League Central title remain.

On the field, the club has few roster decisions to make, as the bulk of the roster is written in ink.

The additions of Keith Foulke, Joe Borowski, Roberto Hernandez and Aaron Fultz have completely reformed the Tribe's bullpen, adding a needed injection of experience to what was a less-than-reliable relief corps last year.

In the outfield, the Indians have created platoons on the corners with the signings of David Dellucci in left and Trot Nixon in right. Both players add playoff experience to an otherwise youthful lineup.

Speaking of youth, the acquisition of second baseman Josh Barfield brings to the Indians one of the National Leagues's more impressive rookies from a season ago.

Though the Indians appear to have a fairly firm grasp on the composition of their Opening Day roster, manager Eric Wedge and his staff still have a couple decisions to make.

They'll be keeping a particularly close eye on the battle for the utility infield job. Hector Luna is the early frontrunner, and he'll be pushed by in-house candidates Joe Inglett and Mike Rouse and non-roster invitees Luis Rivas, Keith Ginter and Asdrubal Cabrera. And in the bullpen, Jason Davis, Fernando Cabrera and Matt Miller will be battling for the two open spots.

Off the field, there is business to be done, as well.

The Indians will be exploring the possibility of contract extensions with right-hander Jake Westbrook, who is eligible for free agency after '07, and left-hander C.C. Sabathia and designated hitter Travis Hafner, both of whom will be eligible after '08.

Spring Training
News and features:
• Sabathia struck by liner:  350K
• Shapiro feels good about club:  350K
• Spring Training update from Wedge:  350K
• Sabathia excited for opener:  350K
• Tribe pitching coach Carl Willis:  350K
Spring Training info: coverage  |  Schedule  |  Ballpark  |  Tickets

General manager Mark Shapiro, whose contract runs out after this year, is also due for a new deal and is expected to get one shortly.

This will be the Indians' penultimate run through the Grapefruit League, as they are expected to move to their new spring home in Goodyear, Ariz., in 2009.

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.