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Indians recall Nick Goody, option Shawn Armstrong; Larry Doby Youth Fund grants awarded

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 14, 2017

Being a major-league reliever in the front-end of the bullpen with options remaining can be an opportunistic but volatile position to be in for a young pitcher.

Shawn Armstrong is currently experiencing that two-sided coin right now, as on Friday he was optioned down to Triple-A Columbus in favor of Nick Goody.

Armstrong made the Opening Day bullpen behind a strong 2016 at Triple-A and an equally solid performance this spring. It placed him as the seventh member of arguably the best bullpen in baseball and afforded him a chance to continue his career at the major-league level.

But, with Armstrong having an option remaining, it also leaves him vulnerable to move between the majors and Triple-A at any point this season. It effectively made him collateral damage after Josh Tomlin’s poor, 1 2/3 innings start against the Chicago White Sox on Thursday. Armstrong threw 2 1/3 innings and struck out five, but it made him unavailable for at least one day in the bullpen. Needing the extra insurance to ensure nobody is overused, Goody was needed to be called up.

Armstrong, Goody, Carlos Frias, Joe Colon, Kyle Crockett and a few others all vied for the final spot in the bullpen this spring. All have options remaining. The Indians held a meeting to explain that outside circumstances could dictate some moves. It’s why sometimes teams rotate between a few relievers to manage the bullpen over a long, 162-game season.

“A lot of times, when you send them down, what they hear is they’re going to Triple-A,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “And they miss the rest of it. This was at a point where there was no anxiety. There was no emotion. We were just explaining to them what happens sometimes. We weren’t sure if we should do it or not and seeing Armstrong’s reaction, I’m glad we did. He understood, he was professional.”

Having so many relievers with options is a luxury normally not afforded to teams.

“It’s hard for young players to understand, and I totally get it,” Francona said. “But as an organization, you can really get hamstrung by not. Like last year, after the Toronto game, we knew for about the next week, it was going to be a struggle. And our guys didn’t have (options).”

Goody was acquired this offseason via the New York Yankees for either a player to be named later or cash considerations, a decision that has yet to be made. Francona said this spring he “has some [Jeff] Manship” in him as a right-handed reliever with a strong slider who can get right-handed hitters out.

“The communication has been really good with Tito and [Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti] and [pitching coach] Mickey [Callaway] and everybody,” Goody said. “That’s all you can ask for as a player. That was nice. Armstrong came up here and dealt. When you have options, that's what happens. We both knew that. I saw him walking out and I was like—he killed it last night. It is what it is.”

Good cause

Grants totaling $1 million via the Larry Doby Youth Fund were awarded to 18 different organizations on Friday.

The Larry Doby Youth Fund was formed last October by Francona, ownership, players in the club house and members of the front office. Its goal is to support Northeast Ohio community organizations that provide education and resources to help curb youth violence. Francona at the time called it probably the proudest moment of his baseball life.

Among the 18 organizations receiving the combined $1 million in grants include athletic clubs, mentorship aides and communities that aim to connect the community with the local police departments. The grants will be presented to the 18 organizations on Saturday.

“I know tomorrow when we actually get to present it, it will be a proud moment,” Francona said. “I know I told you last year, but that was one of the more special things that I’ve ever been a part of, and I know it’s not the end-all be-all, but it’s a start.”

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