GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Minor League camp began in earnest for Indians prospects on Monday, with the first full-squad workouts being held on the back fields of the Player Development Complex.
Thus, the thinning of the herd in Major League camp has begun, with four Tribe roster moves made in the morning. Left-hander Kelvin De La Cruz was optioned to Double-A Akron, while right-handers Jason Grilli, Zach Putnam and Alex White were all reassigned to Minor League camp.
Grilli, a veteran reliever who pitched for the Rockies and Rangers last year, was the only one of the above who, coming into camp, had a shot at making the Opening Day roster. But earlier this month, Grilli suffered a tear in his right quadriceps, just above the knee, and will have what is likely to be season-ending surgery this week in Vail, Colo.
The 22-year-old Putnam made a strong impression in camp but was not considered a factor in the bullpen race. In fact, pitching coach Tim Belcher said Putnam will begin the 2010 season in the Double-A Akron rotation. Last year, the Indians transitioned Putnam from starting to relief work, and he went 4-2 with a 4.13 ERA in 33 appearances at Akron.
"It's still six of one, half a dozen of the other, in terms of whether he should be a bullpen guy or a starter," Belcher said. "He'll make the decision for us. If he's unable to sustain a full year as a starter, we'll move him to a less physically taxing role."
A fifth-round selection in the 2008 Draft, Putnam worked 1 2/3 scoreless innings in Cactus League play.
White is likely headed to Class A Kinston. He was in camp as part of a clause in his first professional contract, and the big league coaching staff got a look at the 21-year-old who was taken with the 15th overall pick in last year's First-Year Player Draft. White made two scoreless appearances, covering 1 2/3 innings, in Cactus play.
"For his first professional camp, let alone his first big league camp, he handled himself well," Belcher said. "He kept his mouth closed and his ears open. He has a good heartbeat on the mound. He has a chance to be a quick mover."
De La Cruz missed most of last year because of an elbow injury but is one of the more promising young arms in the system. He did not appear in any Cactus games but did pitch in a "B" game on the back fields against the Reds.
"He's awesome," Belcher said. "He's impressive physically. Unfortunately, he's the only one I was unable to get in an "A" game. But that's OK. He gleaned a lot from spending a few weeks in big league camp."
There are now 56 roster and non-roster players remaining in camp.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.