SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The spring, the Cactus League schedule and the Indians' days and nights in the desert continue to march on, and still, toward the end of the second week of March, there is no answer to the third-base conundrum in Cleveland camp.
Carlos Santana is trying out third base, battling with Lonnie Chisenhall for the spot. Santana has improved in the field, and Chisenhall showed power at the plate on Monday when he belted a two-run home run in a 7-1 win over the D-backs at Salt River Fields.
Manager Terry Francona has let the drama play out without making any commitments or even insinuating that he is getting close to a decision, and that continued with one declaratively non-declarative statement recently when he was asked if he was running out of time.
"April 1 is kind of an artificial deadline," Francona said. "We don't have to set the playoff roster or things like that. We've got a long season ahead of us. Opening Day is a big day, but it's not the final day.
"That's as far as I'm willing to get. [Reporters] have a good way of trying to get ahead, which we don't need to do."
Francona did say that in the next week or 10 days the Indians would "get a little creative" in getting Santana and Chisenhall game action at the hot corner on back-to-back days. It is possible that Santana or Chisenhall could play designated hitter in one game or make an appearance in a Minor League game.
"It's not perfect for either guy," Francona said. "I realize that. We're trying to put the best team we can together, be fair and respectful of our players, and then make a decision, like we told them, being very conscientious and honest."
Masterson named Opening Day starter
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The news was not surprising at all, but it was delivered in an impressive, polished way.
Following the Indians' 7-1 win over the D-backs at Salt River Fields, Indians manager Terry Francona was asked about Justin Masterson's four-inning, hitless outing, and he smiled before speaking.
"I thought our Opening Day starter looked pretty good," Francona said, and with that, one of the most expected moves of the spring had come to fruition. Masterson will get the ball on March 31 in Oakland against the A's, and it will mark the big right-hander's third consecutive Opening Day nod.
"He's getting his foundation, and he's getting deeper and deeper, and he'll continue to do so," Francona added. "He's got good movement on his two-seamer, he'll ramp up his fastball when he wants to and he's working on getting that breaking ball into season form. That's what a good pro does."
During his four innings of shutout ball Tuesday, Masterson struck out one and walked one and hit two batters -- Martin Prado and Masterson's former Tribe teammate, Shelley Duncan.
"We're getting closer," Masterson said. "We just got into the five-day rotation, so a little bit more time between the outings. ... It felt good. It felt fresh. We're working through it on the road. We're getting there.
"I wouldn't say it's perfect, but I like where we're at. We're along the path, in the zone, the ball's moving really good, which is always exciting, and I'm hitting a few people here and there."
Indians to help Bauer over 'bumps in the road'
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Trevor Bauer had looked good early in the spring. Then Monday came along.
That was when the right-hander, a top prospect a few seasons ago, gave up seven runs (six earned) on seven hits in two innings against the Angels. After the game, Indians skipper Terry Francona said: "It's not always going to be easy. Nobody is going to remotely give up. We all still think that there is a good Major League pitcher in there. We're just going to have to keep fighting, and we'll fight with him. We're going to figure it out."
On Tuesday, Francona was asked if those comments indicated that the team had serious concerns about Bauer moving forward, but Francona clarified to say he was simply doing his best to answer the question of whether adjustments needed to be made.
"He had a tough outing," Francona said. "I think I just wanted to drive home the fact that there are going to be bumps in the road and that the last thing we're going to do is ever bail on him. We're just going to continue to … whether it's fight through it, work through it, communicate through it and get to the point where he's the finished product. And it may not always … be easy. That was kind of all I was saying.
"He's worked really hard to get his delivery. You see the way he's letting the ball go. Now we've got to work on fastball command. And that is something that's front and center, and he gets that. Now we've just got to get there."
Quote to note
"He is used to doing it alone. He's opened up somewhat to us, which we appreciate. I don't think you earn trust overnight, and when I listen to Mickey talk to Trevor, if I was a pitcher, I'd run through a wall."
-- Indians manager Terry Francona on the relationship between pitcher Trevor Bauer and pitching coach Mickey Callaway
• The Indians tied the White Sox, 7-7, in their "B" game in Goodyear on Tuesday. Ryan Rohlinger had the best day at the plate for Cleveland, going 3-for-4 with two doubles and three RBIs, Jesus Aguilar had a hit and two runs scored and Elliot Johnson and Ryan Raburn had two hits apiece.
• Aaron Harang started the "B" game for Cleveland and gave up two runs (one earned) on five hits in three innings. He struck out six and did not walk a batter. Reliever Scott Atchison gave up a run on two hits in two-thirds of an inning, striking out two and walking two. Tyler Cloyd gave up three runs on four hits in two innings, and Toru Murata gave up a hit in a scoreless inning.
• Former Indians great Albert Belle was present Tuesday to do some television work. Francona said he was disappointed that he did not get a chance to say hello.