02/11/2013 8:01 PM ET
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
Aviles ready to serve, no matter what the role
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Indians don't know yet how much Mike Aviles is going to play this season, but they do know he will probably see plenty of action at multiple positions, as he offers versatility that is highly valued.
"It's really hard to find," manager Terry Francona said. "That's why I was so excited when we got him."
The Indians acquired Aviles, along with catcher Yan Gomes, from the Blue Jays in November in exchange for reliever Esmil Rogers. An everyday shortstop a year ago for the Red Sox before he went to Toronto, Aviles joins Cleveland as a super-utility man.
Aviles kept things simple and brought only two gloves to Spring Training -- one for the infield and one for the outfield. He can play all over the diamond, and he will serve as the primary backup to shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, but he can also fill in at second and third base, or in left or right field, if needed.
"He does have the ability to play every day," Francona said. "And in his mind, he's an everyday player, and I'm glad he feels that way. Right now, the way we're situated, he's probably going to get at-bats bouncing around, and guys will get nicked up, it never fails, and he'll probably get some at-bats that way.
"But it's nice for us, because he'll go anywhere you put him and he'll compete. When he's not playing, he'll make somebody else better. It's what you want. Believe me, I know him so well, he's dying to play every day. I respect that in him. If he's not playing every day, he'll still make people better.
"Those guys are hard to find, but on good teams, you always have those guys."
Aviles will likely see action against left-handed pitching, considering he has hit .295 with a .339 on-base percentage in his career off southpaws, compared with .269/.294 against righties. In 136 games with Boston last year, he hit .250 with 13 homers, 14 stolen bases, 28 doubles, 57 runs scored and 60 RBIs.
He is ready to embrace his role with the Tribe.
"The bottom line is, we're all going to get a chance to play," Aviles said. "I'm going to play everywhere. Tito's been very vocal about it. He told me about it. He said, 'You're going to play everywhere. Be ready to play everywhere.' That's perfectly fine with me. I just want to get a chance to play, to help out."
Gomes will likely sit out World Baseball Classic
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Catcher Yan Gomes has yet not made a formal decision about participating in the World Baseball Classic, but he does know which way he is leaning.
As of now, Gomes is prioritizing his competition for a roster spot, and that likely means he will turn down the chance to suit up for Brazil next month.
"I still have to talk to some people," Gomes said on Monday. "But right now I'm leaning toward no."
Gomes, 25, has an opportunity to earn a spot on the Opening Day roster as a bench option for catcher, first base, third base, left field and designated hitter. And as Brazil's first native-born Major Leaguer, he feels he is still honoring his country by concentrating on his big league career.
"I want to make sure I'm focusing on the big leagues now," he said. "A lot of people say, 'You're playing for your country' and everything, but I feel like I'm contributing more to the country by being an established big leaguer.
"I know I'll probably take some heat, but it's my career. I'm still a huge supporter of Brazil baseball."
In fact, Gomes suited up for Brazil in November and helped the team clinch a spot in the tournament.
Last season, Gomes hit .328 with 13 home runs, 29 doubles and 59 RBIs in 79 games for Triple-A Las Vegas, and .204 with four homers and 13 RBIs in 43 games for Toronto. His big league numbers were pieced together between five stints with the Blue Jays.
Manager Terry Francona has made it clear that the team will support Gomes no matter what he decides to do. Gomes does not need to make an official decision until the final rosters are announced on Feb. 20.
Tomlin adjusting to life as a spectator
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- It can get lonely for a pitcher going through a long rehabilitation process. Right-hander Josh Tomlin knows the feeling after coming to Arizona five weeks ago to continue recovering from Tommy John surgery. Most of his teammates only recently arrived for Spring Training, and his wife is back home in Texas.
"I've got my dogs," Tomlin said.
Tomlin is also adjusting to his life as a Spring Training spectator after opening the past two seasons in the rotation. He underwent surgery in August, and he is likely going to be out of the picture for most, if not all, of this season.
His sights are set on being at full strength for 2014, but he was quick to express excitement over what the Indians could have in store this year.
"I'm definitely excited about this year," he said. "The guys we signed in the offseason, and the guys we've added that complement the group we already had, I feel like it's a good fit. I feel like the guys are going to go out there and play hard, and that's all you can really ask."
The 28-year-old Tomlin had his breakout season in 2011, when he went 12-7 with a 4.25 ERA and 1.08 WHIP. Last year he went 5-8 with a 6.36 ERA in 21 appearances, and posted a 13.86 ERA over his final 12 1/3 innings before being sidelined by injury.
Tomlin, who has advanced to throwing at a distance of 75 feet, is happy to be back around his teammates for Spring Training.
"I still feel like I'm a part of this team," he said, "even though I'm not going to be there for as much as I'd want to be there."
Quote to note
"I'm really excited. I didn't know where this winter was going to go. I saw what [general manager Chris Antonetti] was trying to do, and maybe one thing led to another, but now with [Jason] Giambi here, [Nick] Swisher and [Mike] Aviles, there's a veteran presence that's a solid veteran presence."
-- manager Terry Francona
• Cleveland's pitchers and catchers all underwent routine physicals on Monday. Each player also met with manager Terry Francona and general manager Chris Antonetti, along with members of the coaching staff, to discuss Spring Training, expectations and the coming season.
"It was just to make sure everybody understands, before they go on the field, expectations," Francona said. "It's just to make sure there's no abiguity moving forward. I think it's helpful. It's a long day for us, but I think it's really helpful."
• The Indians have not formally announced the signing of right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka, who needs to pass a physical for his Minor League contract to become official. Francona had no comment on the matter. Matsuzaka could be added to the roster as early as Tuesday.
• Pitcher Nick Hagadone, who is vying for a spot in the bullpen, said that the situation involving his being placed on the Minor League disqualified list last season is ongoing. It is believed that service-time issues are being worked out between Hagadone's agent, Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association.
• Similar to recent springs, the Indians plan on having Kenny Lofton, Carlos Baerga and Mike Hargrove in camp as guest instructors. Lofton will work with the outfielders, Baerga with the infielders and Hargrove with the first basemen.
• There was a considerable showing of position players in camp on Monday, two days before they are required to report. Among those on hand were Nick Swisher, Mike Aviles, Michael Brantley, Lonnie Chisenhall and Mark Reynolds.