When the season proper begins, Byrd might have to adjust to working with Victor Martinez, as well.
Last season, the Byrd-Shoppach combo was good for 15 victories. It even became the subject of a temporary October controversy, when manager Eric Wedge opted to stick with what was working and bench Ryan Garko so that Martinez could move to first.
This year, it's not certain the Indians will stick with a hard-and-fast rule about Byrd being paired with Shoppach.
"We're going to match them up, but I'm not saying they're going to be matched up every single time," Wedge said. "There may be situations that dictate otherwise, depending on the rest of our lineup. We just want to leave our options open. You're talking about leaving Victor or Garko or Hafner out of the lineup, and that's significant."
That doesn't bother Byrd.
"That's fine," he said. "It's a new year. Last year, it was one of those situations where Vic needed a break, and I'm high-maintenance, and it worked out well. I'm not opposed to working with Victor."
As for his out-counting mishap in an otherwise solid three innings of work, Byrd laughed it off.
"Everybody was all over me," he said. "You feel like an idiot out there."
Byrd said he periodically checks in with the league office for updates on his status for '08 and gets the same message each time: Hang tight.
Byrd has yet to hear whether he will face a suspension for his admitted use of human growth hormones. The San Francisco Chronicle reported last fall that Byrd bought nearly $25,000 worth of the drugs and syringes between 2002 and 2005, when HGH was first banned by MLB. Byrd told reporters he used the drugs to treat an HGH deficiency and a pituitary disorder.
The Indians remain optimistic Byrd will avoid a suspension.
The Indians came dangerously close to getting no-hit by a trail of Braves on Wednesday. Infielder Danny Sandoval broke up the no-no with two outs and two on in the bottom of the ninth, launching a one-run single off the right-field wall off Colter Bean.
"I don't think I've ever seen [a no-hitter]," Wedge said. "It would have been another first for me."
Top pitching prospect Adam Miller threw out to 120 feet Monday and Wednesday and is set to throw a bullpen session Friday. Miller was shut down for about a week because of a blister that formed on the middle finger of his right hand.
"It's been a little frustrating," Miller said. "I'm pretty much ready to go forward."
Outfielder Shin-Soo Choo continues to make progress in his rehab from the Tommy John ligament replacement surgery performed on his left elbow last fall.
Choo has also been throwing out to 120 feet and hitting in the indoor cages. But he'll actually take live batting practice outdoors Thursday.
The Indians are not sure whether Choo will get into the Tribe's Grapefruit League games as a designated hitter, but Wedge said that time could come toward the end of the month.
Tribe vs. Tribe:
With Tuesday's game in Sarasota cut short by rain, the Indians had to find a way to get a few pitchers their scheduled work. The answer was a three-inning intrasquad game held Wednesday morning on one of the Minor League fields.
Scott Lewis, Ed Mujica, Jeff Stevens and Rich Rundles all pitched in the game.
When not working out or playing Grapefruit games, Indians players have been busy fielding interview requests. As part of the annual "Wahoo Radio Week," eight radio stations have set up shop in tents beyond the right-field wall at Chain of Lakes.
In addition to the Tribe's flagship station, WTAM 1100, other Ohio stations taking part are WGAR in Cleveland, WEOL in Elyria, WHBC in Canton, WAKR in Akron, WMAN in Mansfield, WKBN in Youngstown and WBNS in Columbus.
In his spring debut against the Tigers last week, reigning Cy Young champ C.C. Sabathia wasn't as sharp as he'd like to be. He'll look to make some adjustments Thursday, when he gets the starting nod in the Tribe's 1:05 p.m. ET game against Woody Williams and the Astros in Kissimmee, Fla. Sabathia should be stretched out to three innings of work.
Rafael Perez, Aaron Fultz, Brian Slocum, Scott Elarton, J.D. Martin, Chuck Lofgren and Reid Santos will also be available to pitch for the Indians.