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Pregame blog: Indians vs. Reds: Morgan, Chisenhall make 25-man roster

By Marla Ridenour Published: March 24, 2014

Outfielder Nyjer Morgan and third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall were informed Monday morning that they had made the 25-man roster for Opening Day.

Center fielder Michael Bourn was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring and could miss the first four regular-season games. That timetable could have Bourn back for the Tribe's April 5 home game against the Minnesota Twins.

In a flurry of roster moves, right-hander Aaron Harang asked for and was granted his release. Right-handers C.C. Lee and Trevor Bauer were optioned to Triple-A Columbus. Infielder Bryan LaHair, first baseman David Cooper and catcher Luke Carlin had their contracts reassigned to Triple-A. Carlin will stay in major league camp until the Indians break for San Diego on Thursday. The Indians start the season March 31 in Oakland.

Still to be decided is the final spot in the starting rotation, which comes down to Carlos Carrasco or Josh Tomlin. Carrasco pitches today vs. the Cincinnati Reds, Tomlin Tuedsay against the Texas Rangers. Francona would not say if Chisenhall or converted catcher Carlos Santana would be the Opening Day third baseman, but Antonetti said Santana had earned time there. Right-handers Scott Atchison, Blake Wood and Carrasco or Tomlin are candidates for one spot in the bullpen.

Francona and Antonetti did not have time to meet with designated hitter Jason Giambi before Monday's press conference. Giambi could start the season on the disabled list with a fractured rib. 

Antonetti and Francona said they were impressed with the newfound maturity Chisenhall displayed during their conversation.

"We told Lonnie we were pretty proud of him and his responsibility was to show up and help us win the game," Francona said. "His responses to us were by far the most mature, the most encouraging things we've heard him say since we've known him. That was probably the highlight of the day. He understands, he wants to be a really good player and it hasn't come quite as quick as he would like. That doesn't mean it's not going to come."

Bourn preceded Morgan into the office at the Tribe's Goodyear complex to meet with Francona and Antonetti. They allowed Bourn to be part of the decision to go on the DL.

While he's out, Morgan presumably will start in center field, but Francona could also use left fielder Michael Brantley there.

"It's a very exciting day for me, but the work doesn't stop," Morgan said. "It's unfortunate what's happening with Michael. I'm going to be a great teammate. Whenever he's ready to come back I'll slide to the back or whatever they want me to do. I just want to play hard for the Tribe and play hard for (Francona)."

Bourn was hurt running the bases in a March 16 road game against the San Francisco Giants. He underwent surgery on the same hamstring Oct. 15.

Morgan, 33, was signed to a major league free agent contract on Jan. 16, a move most thought was insurance in case Bourn experienced problems after the surgery. Morgan spent last season with the Yokohama DeNa Bay Stars in the Japan Central League and hit .294. With four years in the major leagues, his career average is .280 with 117 stolen bases in 583 games.

Francona has said repeatedly this spring that Morgan looked like "a man on a mission."

"I wanted to come out here and prove to everybody that I'm a great player and more than likely I can help this organization," Morgan said. "I worked hard this off-season, mentally, physically,  I feel really prepared. I feel like that I've earned this spot."

Morgan missed several days with a calf strain suffered when he stumbled out of the batters box, but he didn't miss a beat when he returned.

"I knew it wasn't anything too serious, something I could overcome," he said. "I've got to thank (Francona) for seeing the real player and seeing how much energy and how much I can bring to this ballclub."

Game: 4:05 p.m. at Goodyear Ballpark.

No DH today because Reds are home team. Carrasco will bat. (Update at gametime. DH is back in. Nick Hamilton (son of announcer Tom Hamilton) will DH and bat ninth.)

INDIANS

Michael Brantley LF

Jason Kipnis 2B

Yan Gomes C

Ryan Raburn 1B

Asdrubal Cabrera SS

David Murphy RF

Lonnie Chisenhall 3B

Nyjer Morgan CF

Carlos Carrasco P

Available to follow Carrasco: Marc Rzepczynski, Cody Allen, Vinnie Pestano, Scott Atchison, Blake Wood.

REDS

Chris Heisey CF

Brandon Philips 2B

Joey Votto 1B

Jay Bruce RF

Ryan Ludwick LF

Todd Frazier 3B

Zack Cozart SS

Brayan Pena C

Alfredo SImon P

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