"It's a volunteer army. This is the best of the guys that wanted to be here. The guys that didn't want to be here, have fun with what you're doing. All these guys jumped at the opportunity to be here. Everybody in that clubhouse that we have right now feels it and believes it and wants to win."
--Indians and Team USA reliever Vinnie Pestano, on playing in the World Baseball Classic

Pestano 'very excited' to kick off World Baseball Classic

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Vinnie Pestano has only been with Team USA for a few days, but he has been around his temporary teammates long enough to know they are taking a serious approach. They want to win the World Baseball Classic.

"The goal isn't to just have a good showing," Pestano said. "The goal is to win it. The guys are definitely all on board with that, just judging by the work ethic and the work these guys are putting in."

Pestano stopped by the Indians' player development complex Thursday morning to get in a workout before rejoining Team USA for the upcoming tournament. The United States plays its first Classic game against Mexico as part of Pool D at 9 p.m. ET on Friday at Chase Field in Phoenix. Italy and Canada are also in Team USA's first-round pool.

On Wednesday, Pestano pitched the second inning for Team USA in an exhibition against the Rockies at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale. Cleveland's setup man needed just seven pitches to breeze through Michael Cuddyer, Nolan Arenado and Tyler Colvin with a pair of flyouts and a groundout.

"Don't be afraid to keep doing that," Indians manager Terry Francona said to Pestano while walking through the Indians' clubhouse.

Following his outing, Pestano sent a text message to Francona to inform the manager of how he performed and how he felt. Francona asked the pitcher to keep checking in after every appearance to help Cleveland monitor his throwing.

Pestano said he will be available to pitch for Team USA on Friday or Saturday. If Team USA advances to the second round of the Classic, the team will play at Marlins Park from March 12-16. The Classic semifinals and championship game will take place from March 17-19 at AT&T Park in San Francisco.

Last season, the 28-year-old Pestano posted a 2.57 ERA in 70 appearances, during which he established a single-season club record with 36 holds. Over the past two years, the right-hander has fashioned a 2.45 ERA over 132 innings (137 games) with 160 strikeouts against 48 walks.

Pestano was looking forward to getting things started with Team USA.

"I'm very excited," Pestano said. "The guys are starting to come together a little bit. There's a lot of great personalities so far. Obviously, we're all from different teams and different backgrounds, but we share the common denominator that we're here and we volunteered to be there.

"Everybody that's there wants to be there and we obviously want to make a good run at this thing."

Brantley gets forearm stitches removed

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Indians are counting on another solid season from Michael Brantley, so taking a cautious approach with his recent forearm injury has been important. Cleveland wants to be sure the left fielder is fully recovered and prepared for Opening Day.

On Thursday, Brantley had the stitches removed from his forearm -- he needed 15 to close a laceration suffered earlier this spring -- and was a full participant in the club's morning workout. Indians manager Terry Francona said Brantley might be ready to resume playing in games by Sunday.

"We'll let him probably go a couple days," Francona said, "where he does everything on the field, running the bases, taking balls off the bat, and then maybe Sunday we'll get him in a game. Maybe we'll start him for three or four innings. I think that's probably pretty reasonable."

Brantley, 25, was spiked on the left forearm by A's third baseman Josh Donaldson in a road game against Oakland on Feb. 25. Cleveland's left fielder was sliding headfirst into third base when Donaldson, hustling to get back to the bag ahead of the runner, accidentally stepped on Brantley's arm.

The Indians initially said Brantley would be sidelined from games for a period of seven to 10 days. Thursday marked the 10th day in his recovery. Over the past few days, Brantley had already resumed hitting and throwing drills.

Last season, Brantley hit .288 with a .348 on-base percentage and a .402 slugging percentage in 149 games for Cleveland. Along the way, he collected six home runs, 37 doubles, four triples, 60 RBIs, 12 stolen bases and 63 runs scored.

In three Cactus League games this spring, Brantley went 5-for-6 at the plate with four doubles, three runs and two RBIs.

Brantley served as the Tribe's starting center fielder last season, but the signing of center fielder and leadoff man Michael Bourn has forced him to shift back to left field. Prior to last year, Brantley split his time between left and center in parts of three previous seasons with Cleveland.

Smoke signals

• Indians All-Star closer Chris Perez (right shoulder strain), who injured his throwing shoulder in his outing against the Royals on Feb. 26, could be cleared to resume a throwing program as early as Sunday if he is asymptomatic. Cleveland has not ruled out Perez for Opening Day (April 2 at Toronto).

• The Indians signed 11 of their pre-arbitration players to one-year contracts for the 2013 season Thursday. The list of signees included Cody Allen, Brantley, Lonnie Chisenhall, Tim Fedroff, Trey Haley, T.J. House, Corey Kluber, Zach McAllister, Chris McGuiness, Danny Salazar and Bryan Shaw.

• Indians reliever Frank Herrmann, who has been shut down due to a sprained ligament in his right elbow, is planning on meeting with Dr. David Altchek in New York at some point next week. The team is still gathering information to determine the next step in the pitcher's recovery.