SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.: Matt Capps is still looking.
He has until Tuesday to tell the Indians whether he will accept a $100,000 retention bonus and take a minor-league assignment or become a free agent.
Last week, the Tribe told the pitcher he was not making the 25-man roster out of spring training, but that he was considered a valuable enough commodity to keep in the farm system. Under the new Basic Agreement, as a major-league free agent who signed a minor-league contract, Capps can walk away Tuesday or take the bonus, which binds him to the Indians until June 1.
Ideally, his agent will find a team willing to give him a spot on the active roster, but so far that hasn’t happened. The odds probably are against him, because a club willing to offer him a major-league contract would have to remove another player from the roster to make room for Capps.
“If I have to go to Triple-A, I want to stay here,” he said. “I would love to be a part of it [this team].”
Indians manager Terry Francona understands the position Capps is in.
“I think he has an obligation to look around,” he said. “I completely respect that. Personally, I hope he stays, but I’ll be happy for him if he finds another team, too.”
For most of the spring, Capps has talked about strengthening his arm after suffering a shoulder strain last year. Now, he said he’s close.
“Every time I’ve thrown — except for my first outing — I’ve gotten people out. I feel pretty good. I’m not a guy who throws hard right away in spring training. I think I’m at 90-91 now. But the end of camp, I think I’ll be up to 92-93. Hopefully, in a couple of more outings, my arm strength will pick up.”
Give me Cleveland
If only Carlos Carrasco had pitched in cloudy Cleveland on Thursday, he would not have given up four runs and four hits in his five-inning start.
The Indians beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 5-4 at Salt River Fields, but that was hardly the point. Carrasco is in a battle for the fifth spot in the rotation with Scott Kazmir and appears to be losing.
When Michael Brantley lost a ball in the sun for one hit, and Carrasco yielded a bloop hit to left, it opened the door to a three-run inning in the third.
“I think Carlos continues to show good stuff,” Francona said. “I think he’s making progress. His arm is good. It’s exciting.”
But Carrasco has only one more start before the end of training camp, not enough to overcome Kazmir’s consistency.
Brantley unloaded on a 3-and-0 pitch in the first inning for a three-run homer and singled in the fifth, raising his average to .429.
“That’s the way to swing at a 3-and-0 pitch,” Francona said.
Ryan Raburn had two doubles to lift his average to .368, and Omir Santos doubled and singled.
Francona said Jason Kipnis didn’t play because “his elbow is a little tender. If it was the regular season, he would be playing.”
It is never pleasant to tell players they are going to the minors, partly because they take the bad news in different ways.
“Trevor Bauer was great,” Francona said, referring to the pitcher’s demotion Thursday. “I think we asked him more questions than he told us stuff. He’s in a good place right now.
“But Scott Barnes took it a little hard. Guys don’t process things right away. All they hear is that they’re going down. You really have to wait a couple of days to talk to them [about their future]. We love this kid, but he wasn’t ready to hear that.”
Back in saddle
Mike Aviles and Carlos Santana have returned from the WBC tournament and will play today.
The Indians return to Goodyear to play the Diamondbacks tonight. Justin Masterson will start against Trevor Cahill. The game will be televised on SportsTime Ohio at 10 p.m.
Sheldon Ocker can be reached at email@example.com.