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Notes: Harris has diverse repertoire

Notes: Harris has diverse repertoire

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. -- Jeff Harris throws a little bit of everything.

"Fastball, sinker, curveball, slider, changeup," he said of his repertoire. "Everything but the kitchen sink."

But if the Indians asked him to heave the sink over home plate for a spot on their big-league roster, he'd probably rip it right out of the wall and haul it out to the mound.

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As it stands, the Indians just want Harris to throw strikes and prove he's healthy.

Brought into the organization on a Minor League contract this winter, the 32-year-old Harris is attempting to bounce back from a frustrating 2006 with the Mariners. He was a member of Seattle's Opening Day roster but was sent packing for Triple-A Tacoma after just three relief appearances in which he gave up two runs in 3 1/3 innings.

Less than a month later, Harris found himself on the disabled list with right shoulder tendinitis.

"It started with my back," he said. "I had pain in my back and I tried to pitch through it and ended up hurting my shoulder. It took a little longer [to recover] than I expected."

After rehabbing in Arizona, Harris didn't make it back to Tacoma until early August. With just 40 innings of work to his credit because of the injury, he pitched in the Venezuelan Winter League this offseason to build his arm back up and went 4-3 with a 2.51 ERA in 11 outings.

"I needed the innings," he said. "I got about 60 innings under my belt down there, and it was a great experience. It was a chance to prove to teams, as well as myself, that I'm healthy."

Where Harris, who has given up two runs on three hits in five Grapefruit League innings, fits into the Indians' plans is open for conjecture. It's possible he could find himself in the Triple-A rotation, though a bullpen role is not out of the question.

Whatever the role, Harris doesn't mind.

"I just want the ball," he said. "I've done both [starting and relieving], and I've had success with both. All I ask for is an opportunity."

Learning curve: Jake Westbrook looked and felt pretty good Saturday. Heck, even his fourth-best pitch looked and felt good.

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Westbrook is a critic of his curveball, which he doesn't use all that often. But he busted it out against the Reds, and it helped him log three scoreless innings in which he gave up a lone hit.

"It's not a pitch I'm very good at throwing," Westbrook said of his curveball. "I work on it, but I don't get too bent out of shape if it's not there. If it's there, it's there. If not, it's not my bread and butter."

The sinker is what Westbrook uses to earn his meal money. And because he's a sinkerballer, he doesn't usually strike out many batters. But on this day, he notched four strikeouts, three of which came with his cutter.

"I try to put myself in a position to get two strikes to punch 'em out," Westbrook said. "I set them up and made pitches when I needed to, so that's nice."

Trotting out to the field: Trot Nixon crossed a major hurdle Saturday in his recovery from offseason back surgery just by stepping on the field.

Nixon played three innings in right field against the Reds, going 0-for-2 at the plate. He had been restricted from game action while getting his body back in baseball shape after the surgery to repair a bulging disk.

"It was good to get out there," Nixon said. "I hadn't seen live pitching since the first couple days of camp. It was a good day."

The plan, for now, is for Nixon to play a few innings every other day.

"It's a slow process," said Nixon, who still plans to be fully ready by Opening Day. "I'd like to be able to play five or six innings like everybody else right now."

Look who's back: Former Indian Brandon Phillips, the starting second baseman for the Reds, made his return trip to Chain of Lakes Park for Saturday's game. He went 0-for-3 at the plate.

Phillips had his contract renewed by the Reds for $407,500 earlier this week. The two sides had talked about a multiyear deal but couldn't come to an agreement.

A year ago, Phillips was in Indians camp fighting for the utility infield job, but the club went with Ramon Vazquez. Phillips was traded to the Reds for Minor League pitcher Jeff Stevens.

Tribe tidbits: Catcher Victor Martinez was back in camp Saturday after being sent home early Friday with a non-baseball medical condition. Martinez, though, did not participate in the game against the Reds. Wedge said Martinez will probably start Sunday against the Yankees. ... From one fireballer to the next, Bob Feller handed Adam Miller his plaque for winning the Bob Feller Award on the field before Saturday's game. Miller won the award, which is given to the organization's finest Minor League pitcher, by going 15-6 with a 2.75 ERA at Double-A Akron last season. ... Brian Slocum made his exhibition debut Saturday after being held up by a sore left hamstring. He worked a scoreless inning in which he gave up two hits but struck out two batters. ... Wedge, the coaching staff and the front-office staff will meet early this coming week to discuss the first round of cuts from big-league camp, which are expected any day now.

On deck: The Indians hope to find out Sunday if Cliff Lee, hampered by a strained right abdominal muscle, will be ready to resume throwing. If not, their first line of defense in the rotation could be Fausto Carmona, who gets the start against the Yankees at 1:05 p.m. ET on Sunday in Tampa.

The Yanks will trot out right-hander Chien-Ming Wang. Jason Davis, Roberto Hernandez, Fernando Cabrera, Brian Sikorski, Tony Sipp and Juan Lara will also throw for the Tribe.

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

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