MARYVALE, Ariz. -- Chris McGuiness might not be able to break camp with the Indians, but manager Terry Francona is hoping the team can find a way to keep the Rule 5 Draft pick in the farm system.
"There's a lot to like," Francona said on Friday. "First, he's a great kid. He can play left, he can play right and he can play first. He's got a beautiful swing. He's a hard worker. He's a good listener. Saying that, in a perfect world, I wish he wasn't a Rule 5 and he was in our Minor League system. That's about as honest as I can be."
The Indians selected the 24-year-old McGuiness from the Rangers in December's Rule 5 Draft at the Winter Meetings. The move cost the Tribe $50,000, and the team is required to offer McGuiness back to Texas if he is not going to be on the 25-man roster. If a Rule 5 pick does make the Opening Day roster, he must remain on the team for the entire season, or be offered back to his original club for $25,000.
The other scenario is if McGuiness clears waivers, the Indians could attempt to work out a trade with the Rangers to keep the versatile player in their system.
"I hope that could happen," Francona said. "I don't know if it's realistic or not. I shouldn't even go into that, but we really like him a lot."
McGuiness -- a first baseman by trade -- posted a slash line of .268/.366/.474 for Double-A Frisco (Texas) last season. In 123 games, he posted 23 homers, 25 doubles and 77 RBIs. McGuiness then took home Arizona Fall League Most Valuable Player honors after hitting .283 with four homers, five doubles and 27 RBIs for Surprise.
This spring, though, McGuiness has struggled at the plate. In 15 Cactus League games with Cleveland, he has hit just .115 (3-for-26) with three singles, no RBIs and eight strikeouts. Francona said it looked early on like McGuiness was pressing at the plate.
"I actually said something one day," Francona said. "I was walking by him in the dugout one day and I said, 'You're trying way too hard.' And it's easy for me to say that. You kind of forget sometimes, this is a big Spring Training for this kid. And every at-bat, if he's getting an at-bat in the eighth inning, that's his whole day. I think he's been better the last three weeks about just playing the game.
"But we love what we're seeing out of him. The other day in a 'B' game, he took a left-hander deep. That's not an easy thing to do. At 11 in the morning, hitting a homer off a lefty, that's saying something."
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.