October 22, 2014

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Indians notes: Raburn off to fast start

CLEVELAND — Just call Ryan Raburn “Mr. Spring.”

Raburn has hit home runs in all three of his at-bats this exhibition season, clouting a pair Saturday in the Indians’ win over the Reds at Goodyear Ballpark.

Spring training homers are no stranger to Raburn, who led the Grapefruit League with six last year (19 RBIs).

The quick start has made an early impression for Raburn, who is bidding to win a roster spot as a bench player, after spending the first six years of his big league career with Central Division rival Detroit.

Manager Terry Francona feels fortunate that the Indians were able to acquire Raburn, who is on a minor league free-agent contract with Cleveland. He said general manager Chris Antonetti liked Raburn as well.

“I’d seen him play well and he has versatility,” Francona said. “You look at his track record. The Tigers really liked him enough to make him their second baseman. Sometimes by the luck of the draw you’re able to get somebody like that. Maybe we caught a break.”

Raburn, a bench player for the majority of his time with the Tigers, won the starting second base job last year before struggling and being demoted to the minors. He hit just .171 with a homer and 12 RBIs in 66 games last season.

Raburn, more of an outfielder by trade, is also expected to see time at second and third base this spring.

 

Testing, testing

Right-hander Joe Smith (left oblique strain) threw a bullpen session at Goodyear Ballpark. It was the second time Smith has thrown off the mound since arriving at camp with the injury.

There is no timetable for Smith’s exhibition debut.

 

He can play

While playing third base Friday, utility man Mike Aviles made a nice play to retire Brandon Phillips. Francona, who managed Aviles in Boston during the 2011 season after he was traded from the Royals, wasn’t surprised.

“When we acquired Mike from Kansas City, the knock on him was that he couldn’t play short that well,” Francona said of Aviles, who was Boston’s starting shortstop last year. “We never saw that. He’s a very good infielder. I don’t know how (the nock) happened. It’s amazing in this game how things follow you sometimes, but he can play infield.”

Aviles, 32, was traded twice this offseason, the first to Toronto in a strange deal that the Red Sox acquired David Carpenter and John Farrell to become manager. He was then dealt to Cleveland along with catcher Yan Gomes for reliever Esmil Rogers.

Aviles is expected to see time at second, shortstop and third base, and can play the corner outfield spots.

 

Roundinthird

The Indians have scored 44 runs on 62 hits over their first two exhibition games. … A replica Michael Bourn jersey has been added to the Indians’ promotional schedule (Sept. 7 against the New York Mets). … Today, (SS) 3:05 p.m. vs. Reds at Goodyear Ballpark. Zach McAllister (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Sam LeCure. WMMS 100.7-FM/3:05 p.m. vs. Brewers in Maryvale Baseball Park (Phoenix). Carlos Carrasco (0-0, 0.00) vs. TBA.

 

Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.