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Tribe Seeks To Shore Up Bullpen



CLEVELAND—By the end of last season, the Indians’ bullpen was considered one of the best in the majors. Manager Terry Francona, an adroit bullpen handler, rode the bullpen hard through the postseason, with good results.

As the team looks ahead to next season, the bullpen again figures to be a key component.

"We look at our bullpen as a position of strength,” president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti said. "It’s a group of high-quality relievers we feel very confident turning the ball over to.”

Unfortunately for some of the younger pitchers in the organization, there aren’t many openings in that bullpen.

At the start of the new year five spots in the bullpen appear set: Cody Allen, Andrew Miller, Bryan Shaw, Dan Otero and Zach McAllister. Only one or two spots will be open in spring training.

The Indians’ 40-man roster has 13 potential candidates for those one or two openings. Six of those 13 candidates are lefthanders, but two of those six, Ryan Merritt and Shawn Morimando, are being developed as starters.

The other three lefties are relievers exclusively, starting with Kyle Crockett, who split his 2016 season between Cleveland and Triple-A. He struggled in the big leagues last season, posting 5.06 ERA in 29 appearances. The other two are newcomers to the organization after moving on from other teams since the end of last season: Tim Cooney (from St. Louis) and Hoby Milner (from Philadelphia).

Among the righthanded relievers on the 40-man roster, the most intriguing remains Mike Clevinger, a starter by trade. Clevinger, 26, who in 17 starts last year at Triple-A Columbus was 11-1, 3.00, appeared in 17 games with the Indians in both a starting and relief role. He was 3-3, 5.26 overall.

"He’ll go to camp and be conditioned as a starter, but that doesn’t preclude him from us using him out of the bullpen,” Antonetti said.

SMOKE SIGNALS

The front office continues to be reshuffled. Eric Binder was promoted to to director of baseball operations, Paul Gillispie is the new international scouting director and Victor Wang is now pro scouting director. James Harris was hired as the new farm director.

Righthander Nick Goody was acquired from the Yankees for a player to be named later or cash.

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Mike Clevinger Continues To Blossom For Indians

Clevinger pitched 5.1 scoreless innings to lead the Indians to a 6-0 win over the Angels on Monday.

— Jim Ingraham is a sports columnist for the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram/Medina Gazette

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