December 20, 2014

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Indians notes: Trade with Dodgers brings infield depth

Justin Sellers

Justin Sellers

GOODYEAR, Ariz. — The Indians completed a minor trade with the Dodgers on Sunday, acquiring infielder Justin Sellers for cash considerations. To make room for Sellers on the 40-man roster, Cleveland designated infielder David Cooper for assignment.

Sellers, 28, played 27 games for Los Angeles last year, batting .188 with a home run and two RBIs. He spent the majority of the season at Triple-A Albuquerque, where he hit .270 with six homers and 65 RBIs in 89 games.

“I think it’s adding depth at the utility spot,” manager Terry Francona said of the move. “We just want to try to make our organization better. I think (general manager) Chris (Antonetti) and those guys felt like this was an opportunity to do that.”

The Indians are looking for infield depth in the wake of an injury to prospect Jose Ramirez, who injured his left thumb while playing winter ball, and underwent surgery Dec. 11. Ramirez, 21, made his major league debut with the Indians last year and was close to playing in his first exhibition game before injuring his ankle on the treadmill.

One of Cleveland’s top prospects, he is scheduled to play four innings in a B game Tuesday against the Angels in Goodyear.

Sellers, an above-average fielder, has appeared in 82 big league games since being drafted in the sixth round by Oakland in 2005. He’s a career .199 hitter in the majors — .268 over nine seasons in the minors.

A not so fun fact where the Indians are concerned is that Sellers was arrested last winter for doing motorcycle wheelies and fleeing police.

Cooper, who hit .311 with four homers and 11 RBIs in 45 games for Toronto in 2012, was attempting to come back from career-threatening back surgery.

The pitch

Right-hander Aaron Harang, a candidate for the fifth spot in the rotation, started in place of scheduled starter Justin Masterson in the Indians’ 6-3 victory over the Mariners at Goodyear Ballpark on Sunday.

Harang was supposed to pitch Saturday, but the game was rained out. The Indians decided to move Masterson to a simulated game on a practice field in Goodyear, while Harang allowed a run on one hit over two innings of his second appearance.

One of Harang’s competitors, right-hander Trevor Bauer, also made his second appearance, allowing a towering two-run homer to Dustin Ackley in the fourth inning, but pitching well otherwise.

“There’s a big but there,” Francona said. “That’s by far the best he’s thrown. He looked like he had conviction with his fastball, he worked ahead, he threw some fastballs down, then he spun his breaking ball off it. That was really exciting.”

Bauer struggled last year and changed his delivery in the offseason. He said he is more comfortable this spring.

“I think I’m in a better position to compete. That’s all I really care about,” Bauer said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen, whether I’m on the club or not. I guess I’ll be on some club. I don’t know where it will be. Hopefully I’m on some club.”

Growing pains

Carlos Santana was able to avoid incident in his exhibition debut at third base, but not during his second appearance Sunday.

Santana, who is attempting to change positions this spring, failed to come up with a short-hop relay throw, then had a throwing error on the first grounder he fielded of the spring.

Prior to the game, Francona was asked what he would like to see from Santana at the hot corner.

“I guess you try and watch and see how he reacts to everything, even balls that aren’t hit to him,” he said. “Is he moving, is he reacting to a play, is he reacting to the bat? So far, he seems to be just fine. I know in winter ball the reports were that he didn’t look out of position.

“His arm is probably as good as anybody’s in the league. He shed all the (catching) gear and still has all that arm strength. It’s pretty impressive.”

Circus act

ESPN’s documentary on Marge Schott was on the television in the media room in Goodyear, when someone reminded Francona that he played for Cincinnati (1987) during the controversial owner’s tenure.

One of his memories wasn’t so fond — having to ride an elephant at the team’s season-ending party for fans.

“If you weren’t good enough to tell (Schott) no, you had to ride the elephant,” Francona said.

Roundin’ third

Right-hander Vinnie Pestano is expected to make his exhibition debut today. … Outfielder Ryan Raburn is expected to play first base this spring. Francona said he would try to get him in a game at the position in a week or so. … A pair of former Indians are coaches in the Mariners’ organization — Rick Waits (Seattle pitching coach) and Cory Snyder (Triple-A hitting coach). Longtime radio voice Tom Hamilton returns to call exhibition games Friday. Hamilton remained in Cleveland to watch his son Brad participate in the high school basketball playoffs for Avon Lake. … Today, 3:05 p.m., vs. Rangers at Surprise Stadium (Surprise, Ariz.). Kluber (0-0, 18.00 ERA) vs. Lewis (0-0, 0.00 ERA).

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