Sheldon Ocker

GLENDALE, Ariz.: Under the terms of the new minor-league contract signed by Matt Capps, he is free to walk away from the Tribe if he is not on the roster by May 1.

Even if the Indians can’t find a place in the bullpen for Capps by the end of April, he might want to stay in Triple-A if no other club is willing to give him a roster spot.

Capps pitched one inning in a minor-league game Tuesday and retired the White Sox in order, striking out two, on Wednesday, giving him back-to-back outings for the first time this spring.

“I think he’s done a really good job,” manager Terry Francona said. “I think he’s getting better and more confident. He’s getting stronger too. And that’s to be expected. The way his season ended, I thought it would take him awhile.”

Capps pitched only once after July 16 because of a strained shoulder.

Dice-K rolls

Daisuke Matsuzaka was brought up from the minor-league camp to start Wednesday against the White Sox and gave up two runs, five hits, walking none in 5? innings.

Dice-K did not give up a run until the fifth, when a bunt single and an error prolonged the inning, as the Tribe lost 5-4.

“I thought he did a better job of establishing his off-speed pitches,” Francona said. “He also managed his pitch count better.”

Asked about Matsuzaka’s velocity, the manager said: “I didn’t even look. The hitters will let you know.”

Vinnie Pestano worked a scoreless inning, giving up one hit, and Lonnie Chisenhall had two hits to raise his spring average to .426.

Smooth transition

Integrating several new players into the Tribe clubhouse and Francona’s routine turned out to be relatively stress free.

“It was surprisingly easy,” the manager said. “Going in, the clubhouse was receptive to what I had to say. I made sure to try and communicate what we were doing. I think it’s been a very good camp.”

So is the team ready?

“I think we’re prepared for the season,” Francona said. “But I’ve left camp and gone 0-6, so you just don’t know.”

Return to sender

It was clear from the outset of spring that the Tribe could not keep infielder Chris McGuiness on the active roster all season, as required of a player taken over the winter in the Rule 5 draft.

The Indians also were unable to make a deal with the Rangers that would allow the Tribe to send McGuiness to the minors. Consequently, McGuiness was sent back to Texas.

“When you get a guy like that, you know it’s kind of a long shot,” Francona said. “It’s hard for a guy to skip Triple-A.”

In 41 spring at-bats, McGuiness batted .195 with two doubles.

Cabrera update

Asdrubal Cabrera (sore back) is expected to be ready for the season opener but, “I’d say that one more day [of inactivity] is realistic,” Francona said.

First up

Here are the pitching matchups for the opening series of the season against the Blue Jays:

Justin Masterson vs. R.A. Dickey on Tuesday night; Ubaldo Jimenez vs. Brandon Morrow on Wednesday night; Brett Myers vs. Mark Buehrle on Thursday night.

Kudos

Tribe president Mark Shapiro was named board chairman of the Cleveland chapter of the Positive Coaching Alliance, an organization that conducts workshops and offers online courses for youth and high school coaches, parents and young athletes.

Shapiro also is a member of the organization’s advisory board.

Marching onward

The Indians travel to Peoria to play the Padres this afternoon. Justin Masterson will start against Clayton Richard.

Sheldon Ocker can be reached at socker@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the Indians blog at https://ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SheldonOckerABJ.