The Indians said goodbye to 15 players Thursday, but the group didn't go far, only to the minor-league camp next door.
It is time for prospects to play every day and for suspects to leave the scene, allowing players more likely to win roster spots a chance to get the at-bats and the repetitions on the mound.
Right-handers John Meloan, Adam Miller, Juan Salas and left-hander Tony Sipp, along with second baseman Luis Valbuena were optioned to Columbus.
Right-hander Hector Rondon and catcher Carlos Santana were optioned to Akron.
Right-hander Jack Cassel, left-hander David Huff, catcher Armando Camacaro, infielders Jordan Brown, Wes Hodges, Julian Merchan, Beau Mills and outfielder Stephen Head were reassigned to the minor league camp.
Huff was expected to compete for the No. 5 spot in the rotation, but a minor injury limited his appearances, and when he did pitch, he didn't pitch well, giving up four runs and eight hits in four innings.
"With David, we felt if we ran it all the way to the end, we would have to speed him up, because he had that biceps soreness,'' manager Eric Wedge said. "Let's get David out there and built up, so he can be an option for us some time during the season.''
Valbuena, Rondon, Santana, Sipp, Hodges and Mills also are considered strong candidates to win major-league jobs in the next year or two.
Salas had seemed to be working toward winning the only vacancy in the bullpen, having pitched three scoreless innings in three outings. But he hasn't pitched recently and Wedge said, "He has a good arm, good stuff. We want to get him into a routine to where he can be an option for us in the pen. We want him to be able to throw more than one inning and get to a point where we can use him four or five times a week.''
Santana, who might be the hottest prospect in Cleveland's organization, will start the season behind the plate at Akron.
"He made a great first impression,'' Wedge said. ""He has a tremendous amount of raw skill. He needs to keep learning every day behind the plate. He needs to get a better feel for handling a staff and receiving the baseball.''
Forty-four players remain in camp.
"If you're still in big-league camp,'' Wedge said, ""you still have an opportunity.''
GREAT OUTING, ALMOST -- Aaron Laffey allowed neither a run nor a hit for three innings Thursday, but the Brewers rocked him for three runs and three hits in the fourth, his final inning.
"I got a little tired in the fourth,'' said Laffey, who is competing for the fifth spot in the rotation with Jeremy Sowers and Scott Lewis. ""I felt a little sluggish all day. I like to be on a five-day schedule, and with the off day (Wednesday), it was six.''
Said manager Eric Wedge, ""He struggled to find it in the fourth, but he worked through the inning. He was just a little out of sync.''
Laffey, who threw 73 pitches, insists he is not thinking about the battle for a roster spot.
"I'm just worrying about myself,'' he said. ""I feel good, and I feel confident.''
BUSY DAY -- Grady Sizemore raised his averaged to .480 with two singles and two walks, as the Tribe lost 7-5 to Milwaukee.
David Dellucci hit his second homer of the spring, a two-run blast.
Josh Barfield is trying to learn to play third, and he found out Thursday that third plays differently than second, his normal position. He was charged with one error and almost comitted one or two more.
"He got a lot of action over there,'' Wedge said. ""That's what it's going to take, him seeing all kinds of plays.''
FAUSTO HURTIN' -- Fausto Carmona was struck in the right forearm with a batted ball during a minor-league intrasquad game Thursday. X-rays were negative, and he is listed as day-to-day with a contusion.
HE'LL TRY ANYTHING -- Former Tribe outfielder Trot Nixon has an uphill fight to make the Brewers' roster and thought he needed an edge.
Nixon wore No. 3 on the back of his uniform then abruptly changed to 93.
"I'm just trying to shake things up,'' he said.
MARCHING ONWARD -- The Indians return home to Goodyear this afternoon to play the Athletics. Carl Pavano will start against Brett Anderson, with Scott Lewis, Matt Herges, Edward Mujica and Greg Aquino set to work out of the bullpen.
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