CLEVELAND: Over the past 10 years or more, Indians' baseball operatives often have had little to do in spring training other than pick a utility infielder and a reliever.
That won't be the case when training camp begins in February. There is more uncertainty about the roster than at any time in years, and matching players to positions will be the top priority in the Arizona desert, unless some decisions are made by the end of this season.
"It's still early for that,'' manager Eric Wedge said Friday. ""I don't look at anything as a done deal yet. We're going to keep running these young kids out there.''
But there are a few players who are assured of opening next season at certain positions. ¶
""Grady (Sizemore) and Jhonny (Peralta) have been here longer than anybody,'' Wedge said, really referring to their security rather than their longevity. ""(Shin-Soo) Choo and Asdrubal (Cabrera) are right behind them.'' ¶
Sizemore will continue to man center field and Peralta, even though he is new to the position this year, will be at third base. Choo is the man in right, and Cabrera has taken hold at shortstop, both with his offense and defense. ¶
If the rest of the infield and outfield positions are practically wide open. ¶
Luis Valbuena is not guaranteed to start 2010 as the regular at second base, but who is likely to beat him out? ¶
There is no automatic heir apparent to Ryan Garko at first or Victor Martinez behind the plate. Same thing in left field, where Ben Francisco had only a tenuous hold on the position before he was traded to the Phillies. ¶
Matt LaPorta probably will be a candidate at both first base and left. He has more experiece in the outfield and last spring demonstrated the skills to play on an everyday basis. But Wedge and General Manager Mark Shapiro might prefer that he play first, which he is still learning. ¶
The future No. 1 catcher might not be here. And that is not a reference to Carlos Santana, who might be a future star but still is ticketed to spend a big chunk of next year at Triple-A after his outstanding season at Akron this season. ¶
Kelly Shoppach does not appear to be the favorite of management to move into the everyday catching role. Wyatt Toregas is a candidate to be the backup, not the regular. ¶
Until Santana is ready, probably no sooner than 2011, Lou Marson, obtained in the Cliff Lee deal, might be the regular behind the plate. ¶
""I want to see him myself,'' Wedge said. ""I'm hoping at some point I'll get to do that. The reports on him are good. He handles things well offensively and defensively.'' ¶
IN PRAISE OF CARROLL -- In addition to filling in at second base and third, Jamey Carroll has become an outfielder, playing two game in left and two in right. Moreover, he is batting .365 against lefties and .340 with runners in scoring position. ¶
""Jamey has been invaluable to us,'' manager Eric Wedge said Friday. ""He's the consummate professional. Casey Blake did that way for us, and Jamey is similar. He is a guy people can look up to. ¶
""This season has been hectic to say the least, and he been a constant, keeping everybody in tow. He hasn't been in the outfield since spring training, but you see the way he's played there. That's all you need to know.'' ¶
DAY OF REST -- Travis Hafner got the night off, which put Kelly Shoppach at DH and Wyatt Torgeas behind the plate. ¶
""Shoppach has been swinging the bat better,'' Wedge said, ""and with a left-hander on the mound, it's a good night for Hafner to be off.'' ¶
FARM FACTS -- Scott Lewis gave up four runs, five hits and a walk in two innings, as Columbus fell to Toledo 10-1. *elip Ole Sheldon hit his 10th home run of the year in Kinston's 10-6 loss to Myrtle Beach. *elip T.J. House (5-9, 2.89 ERA) gave up two runs and five hits in Lake County's 2-1 loss to Delmarva. *elip Jason Kipnis had three hits and one RBI, raising his average to .326, as Mahoning Valley beat Hudson Valley 6-3. Preston Guilmet (6-3, 2.76 ERA) gave up two earned runs (three total) and six hits in six innings. ¶