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02/28/11 9:03 PM ET

Indians look to define Laffey's role

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Indians want to avoid moving Aaron Laffey back and forth between the rotation and bullpen this season. That is an approach that the left-hander appreciates.

"That's something I haven't had in a couple years," Laffey said. "That consistency in knowing you're going to start the year in one position, and you're going to stay there, I haven't had that yet."

Laffey wanted to make one thing clear, though.

"It doesn't matter what I do," Laffey said. "I'm just here to perform, just take the ball and pitch."

Laffey, 25, is currently in the mix for the Indians' lone vacancy at the back end of the rotation. Manager Manny Acta has made known, however, that the club will not wait until the end Spring Training to decide whether Laffey is a better fit as a starter or long reliever.

As things currently stand, Laffey's main competitors for the fifth starting job are Josh Tomlin, Jeanmar Gomez and David Huff. Anthony Reyes is also a candidate, but his chances appear to be diminished in light of his current battle with some mild right elbow soreness.

Laffey made his first Cactus League appearance of the spring on Sunday, and limited the Reds to one hit in one shutout inning of work.

Laffey, who is 17-19 with a 4.35 ERA in 49 career starts in the Majors, noted that he prepared himself physically and mentally as a starter over the offseason. As a reliever, he has fashioned a 4.81 ERA in 30 career appearances. If it comes down to it, Laffey is willing to accept a long-relief job, especially knowing that the Indians no longer plan on shuffling him between roles.

"Last year was just kind of one of those things," Laffey said, "where I kind of never fully could commit to one, just because I started the year as a reliever and I knew at some point I could be a starter again. Just from that standpoint, [it will be better] now that I know, once the season starts, that's where I'm going to be."

Perez tries out new changeup

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Indians closer Chris Perez took his new toy out for a test drive during his Cactus League debut.

Perez has been fine-tuning a changeup that he plans on adding to his pitch arsenal this season. In his one-inning appearance against the Reds on Sunday, the right-hander threw mostly fastballs, but mixed in his new offspeed offering.

"I started working on it and playing catch with it last year," Perez said earlier this spring. "I threw it in a couple games towards the end, but it's something I'm working on. It gives hitters another look."

Perez, who posted a 1.71 ERA and chalked up 23 saves for Cleveland last year, also throws a slider, though he did not use any in his spring debut against Cincinnati. Perez said that he used a three-finger grip for his changeup, which breaks straight down when it is working properly.

"Some days it tails in," Perez said. "It changes day to day until I master it."

Kipnis finds comfort in more relaxed stance

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- After growing tired of trying a variety of stances to get comfortable at the plate, Indians second base prospect Jason Kipnis finally settled on a unique approach midway through last season.

Prior to starting his left-handed swing, Kipnis relaxes and holds the bat behind him, nearly parallel to the ground. It is a style previous used by former big leaguers such as Cal Ripken Jr. and Mickey Tettleton.

"I started doing it last year," Kipnis said. "No one told me to try it. I just did it on my own. I was going through so many different stances and then I tried that. It felt comfortable."

Kipnis said it has helped his hitting mechanics, because the approach forces him to go straight into a ready position shortly before swinging. It has been working so far. On Monday, Kipnis launched his first homer of the spring, sending a pitch from Reds righty Chad Reineke to well beyond the wall in center field.

Last year, the 23-year-old Kipnis hit .307 with 16 homers, 32 doubles, eight triples and 74 RBIs in 133 games between Class A Kinston and Double-A Akron.

Smoke Signals

Indians right fielder Shin-Soo Choo, who is currently fighting minor left elbow soreness, was in the lineup as a designated hitter on Monday against the Reds. Choo went 1-for-3 with an RBI single. Before the game, Choo threw from a distance of 105 feet and said his arm felt good. He will increase the distance to 120 feet on Tuesday. Choo could be back in right field as early as Thursday. ... Center fielder Grady Sizemore (left knee) continued with his same rehab routine on Monday. Sizemore took part in batting practice, and then participated in some sprint and agility drills. There is still no established timetable for his Cactus League debut. ... The Indians still have not announced the signing of free-agent reliever Chad Durbin. An official announcement could come as early as Tuesday. Cleveland will have to make a subsequent move to clear room on the 40-man roster for Durbin. ... Outfielder Travis Buck -- in camp on a Minor League deal and competing for a spot on Cleveland's bench -- went 3-for-3 with three runs scored and one RBI. Buck belted a solo home run in the second inning against Cincinnati. ... Right-hander Jeanmar Gomez, who is in the mix for the fifth starter's job with the Tribe, logged two shutout innings against the Reds on Monday. ... Scheduled pitchers for Tuesday's game against the Dodgers include Carlos Carrasco (starter), Kelvin De La Cruz, David Huff, Doug Mathis, Zach McAllister and Chris Perez.

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.