December 19, 2014

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Indians notes: Tribe tabs replay chief

Cleveland Indians' Carlos Santana slides safely into second base under the tag of Chicago White Sox second baseman Micah Johnson during an exhibition baseball game in Goodyear, Ariz., Tuesday. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Cleveland Indians’ Carlos Santana slides safely into second base under the tag of Chicago White Sox second baseman Micah Johnson during an exhibition baseball game in Goodyear, Ariz., Tuesday. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

GOODYEAR, Ariz. — The Indians got their video review man.

Cleveland announced the hiring of Gregg Langbehn on Tuesday. He will serve as the team’s Major League replay coordinator, a newly developed position in preparation for expanded instant replay’s debut this season.

Langbehn, 43, pitched, coached and managed in the minor leagues and is a former basketball and football referee. He interviewed in Goodyear last week, returned to Cleveland, and is back at the team’s spring training site.

Langbehn will be stationed in the clubhouse, where he will have access to a telephone to the dugout and manager Terry Francona. The replay equipment is provided by MLB and will be the same for every club, home or away.

It’s a new twist to an old game, and Francona is anticipating some growing pains.

“It’ll be interesting,” he said. “I think there’s going to have to be some give as we go, and there will be some adjustments made, I’m sure, but the idea is good. They’re trying to get the egregious calls. I think we all agree with that, it’s just how do you get to that point without mucking up the game? And I think everybody agrees with that.

“(MLB) has been very open about the fact that this is the first year. The NFL did it and then they took a five-year hiatus. I don’t think MLB really wants to do that. They want to try to be as close to right and then make adjustments as they need to.”

Francona believes instant replay will cut down on arguments between managers and umpires.

“What I think you’re going to see, especially early in games, you’re not going to see the big blowups, ’cause there really isn’t anything to blow up about,” Francona said. “You can either challenge it or not. I think early in games you’re going to see less arguing.”

One-year deals

The Indians signed seven players (with 0-3 years of MLB service) to one-year contracts, including starting pitcher Corey Kluber, reliever Bryan Shaw and third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall.

Cleveland also agreed to terms with pitchers Austin Adams, T.J. House, Colt Hynes and C.C. Lee.

Wounded Wahoos

  • Bullpen candidate Matt Capps (right shoulder strain) is approximately 7-10 days aways from starting a return-to-throwing program.
  • Infield prospect Jose Ramirez (left thumb, ankle) made his first appearance of the spring, playing in a B game against the Angels in Goodyear on Tuesday. He had a base hit.
  • Utility candidate, infielder Bryan LaHair (left wrist), has begun taking batting practice in the cages.
  • Reliever Frank Herrmann (reconstructive elbow surgery) pitched in a simulated game Sunday without incident and was scheduled to throw a bullpen session Tuesday, with another simulated game on tap for Friday.

Third’s the word

Carlos Santana’s second exhibition game at third base went much better than the first.

Santana, who misplayed a relay throw and had a throwing error in his debut, caught a foul pop and made a smooth play on a grounder in the fourth inning of the Indians’ 5-4 walk-off win over the White Sox at Goodyear Ballpark.

Getting ready

Francona was asked to assess second baseman Jason Kipnis’ training camp thus far.

“He’s just preparing for a long season,” said Francona of Kipnis, who started at second base Monday and went 1-for-3 with a run. “He’s in that group of players that he knows where he’s going to play, he knows where he’s going to hit. He’s preparing for a long season.”

Kipnis, an All-Star for the first time last season, got off to a slow start to 2013 before getting red-hot in June, when he was named American League Player of the Month after hitting .419 (39-for-93) with 12 doubles, four home runs and 25 RBIs.

“That June was pretty special, because up to that point, everybody kept saying, ‘When are you going to move him down in the order?’” Francona said. “I just didn’t think that was the right thing to do. If you look back on it, we would have moved him to eighth, and what he did in June, we wouldn’t have got the production. When you know you have a good player, you just ride it out.

“I think he can actually get better … as he knows the league, as he knows himself. As long as he stays healthy, I think he’s going to get better.”

Roundin’ third

  • Outfielder David Cooper cleared waivers and returned to training camp as a non-roster invitee. Cooper was designated for assignment after infielder Justin Sellers was acquired from the Dodgers.
  • Francona caught up with his son Nick at the B game against the Angels. Nick Francona was hired by the Angels in December and will serve as coordinator of Major League player information. He played baseball at Penn before joining the Marines and leading a sniper unit in Afghanistan.
  • Today, 3:05, vs. Mariners at Peoria Sports Complex (Peoria). Banwart (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Paxton (0-0, 0.00). No television or radio (Indians.com).

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