Cunningham makes roster as fourth outfielder
Non-roster invitee Spilborghs reassigned to Minors
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Indians hoped that either Aaron Cunningham or Ryan Spilborghs would seize their opportunity this spring and claim an outfield job. Instead, both players struggled and Cleveland was left with a tough decision.
Under the circumstances, the Indians decided on Sunday that Cunningham would break camp with the club as their fourth outfielder off the bench. Cunningham can handle all three outfield spots and has had success with left-handed pitching, but his situation was aided by the fact that he is on the 40-man roster and out of Minor League options.
"Neither one of these guys separated themselves," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "A lot of it we had to rely on track record, and a lot of it was business decisions about guys already being on the 40-man roster."
Spilborghs, who was in camp with Cleveland as a non-roster invite, was reassigned to Minor League camp. That said, the outfielder has an out clause that he can exercise by Thursday. The Indians are hoping he chooses to remain in the organization, but the club also knows Spilborghs may want to pursue a job elsewhere.
"I want it to be the right opportunity for Ryan," Indians general manager Chris Antonetti said. "I'd like to try to help him find the best opportunity at the Major League level. The reality is that he could be with us, because I think we have an appreciation for who he is and the things he's capable of doing."
Cunningham has hit .213 through 18 games this spring for the Indians, while Spilborghs left camp after putting up a .174 average in 21 contests.
Cunningham, 25, was acquired over the offseason in a trade with the Padres, who received Minor League reliever Cory Burns in the deal. Cunningham managed only a .178 average in 52 games with San Diego last year, but he posted a .329 mark with nine homers and 63 RBIs with Triple-A Tucson.
"Aaron probably, like Ryan, pressed a little bit this spring," Antonetti said. "So I'm not sure we got a chance to see what he's fully capable of, but were able to see some of the things our scouts saw. He's obviously a very athletic guy. He can play both corner spots in the outfield. He's certainly capable of standing in center as well.
"He's had a better approach against left-handed pitching. He may not have had the success in spring, but we think he's a guy that's capable of helping a team out in a variety of ways both defensively and offensively, and on the bases."
Accardo reassigned to Minors
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Indians manager Manny Acta called Jeremy Accardo into his office on Sunday morning and told the reliever that he had pitched well enough this spring to make the team. Unfortunately for Accardo, other factors got in the way of a promotion.
Cleveland handed its final bullpen spot to right-hander Jairo Asencio, who joined the team on Thursday after being acquired from the Braves in a trade. The Indians have had eyes on Asencio for some time, but he also came to camp with no options remaining. That played a role in the decision to reassign Accardo to the Minors.
"The toughest one was Accardo," Acta said. "Accardo did pitch very well. He was the exception of all those guys that came into camp and really pitched his way onto the team. But, we have him. We still have him. A lot had to do with a guy ike Asencio being out of options. We want to keep every option available and continue to add depth to our pitching staff."
The 30-year-old Accardo signed a Minor League contract with Cleveland over the winter and turned in a 1.00 ERA in nine Cactus League innings this spring. The right-hander reverted back to using a fastball and splitter-heavy approach, which is a style he used when he had a 2.14 ERA and 30 saves for the Blue Jays in 2007.
Acta told Accardo that if he kept on dealing with Triple-A Columbus, he would stay on Cleveland's radar.
"We understood how he felt," Acta said. "But there's going to be an opportunity for him. We know that, because we'll need a ton of pitchers throughout the season. Mainly, it was, 'Go down there and continue to use that split finger that's been so good in Spring Training and be the guy when we need somebody.'"
Indians general manager Chris Antonetti noted that the club would not stand in the way if Accardo was presented with a Major League opportunity with another team before the season starts. If he does stay with Cleveland, the right-hander has an out clause that will kick in on June 1 if he is not on the big league roster.
Asencio, 27, has posted a 2.77 ERA in 13 innings this spring between stints with the Indians and Braves. Last season, the right-hander had a 1.81 ERA and 26 saves in an impressive showing for Triple-A Gwinnett. Over the winter, Asencio earned Most Valuable Player honors in the Caribbean World Series.
Acta said Asencio is capable of handling a variety of relief roles.
"He's a former starter," Acta said. "Also, we see him as a guy who, if he gains confidence up here with the pitches that he has, he might work himself down the road to pitch high leverage innings too."
Quote to note
"I like it. Any additional opportunity to get to into the postseason is certainly welcome. Obviously, there's a balance at some point of what's the right amount of playoff teams and what's too much? But I don't think we've gotten to too many yet." -- Indians general manager Chris Antonetti, on having two Wild Cards in each league now
Indians right-hander Derek Lowe, who left his start on Thursday due to back spasms, threw off a mound in a bullpen session on Sunday morning without any problems. Lowe is on schedule to pitch for the Tribe in Tuesday's exhibition game against Class A Carolina in Zebulon, N.C.
After suffering a minor right hip injury on Friday, right-hander Jeanmar Gomez played catch without any issues on Sunday for the Indians. Gomez -- Cleveland's fifth starter -- is feeling much improved and is on pace to start on April 11 against the White Sox as planned.
Indians general manager Chris Antonetti unveiled the team's 25-man roster on Sunday, but described the situation as being fluid. Antonetti continued to work the phones in search of possible upgrades. The deadline for officially setting the Opening Day roster is 5 p.m. ET on Wednesday.