GOODYEAR, Ariz.: Blake Wood and Scott Atchison learned that when it comes to final roster decisions, Indians manager Terry Francona has a flair for the dramatic.
Both right-handed relievers were told on Monday they would be with the Indians for Opening Day next Monday in Oakland.
Francona gave Wood the news when he took him out of a game against the Cincinnati Reds. Atchison found out in an office at the Tribe’s Goodyear headquarters, Francona recalling a conversation they’d had late in the 2011 season with the Boston Red Sox.
Bullpen coach Kevin Cash told Francona that both were feeling some anxiety. Francona said he rarely brings his cellphone to games, but did that day. So Francona called General Manager Chris Antonetti from the dugout at Goodyear Ballpark and asked for permission to tell Wood he’d made the team.
When he got to the mound to tell Wood his day was done, Francona instructed catcher Luke Carlin to stay back.
“I said, ‘Have you ever made the team on the mound?’?” Francona told Wood. “He was like, ‘No.’ I said, ‘Well, you just did.’ Then we came into the dugout and talked to him a little bit. I think he was pretty excited.”
It’s the first time Wood, 28, has made a major-league Opening Day roster. He didn’t pitch in 2012 because of an elbow injury that required surgery.
As for Atchison, Francona was about to be fired when he approached Atchison in the tunnel during the Red Sox season-ending series against the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards.
“We were really falling apart and he was pitching his heart out,” Francona said. “I said, ‘I don’t think I’m going to be here, but wherever I am, there will be a day you can pitch for me again.’
“I’ll be damned,” Francona said, surprised those words came true.
Atchison said when Francona called him into the conference room, he asked him if he remembered those prescient words.
“I said, ‘Yeah, I’m not going to forget that. Anybody who’s going to tell me I might have a job, I’ll take it,’?” Atchison said. “Then he goes, ‘Well, you can pitch for me this year.’
“It was a good moment. It’s rewarding to have someone have that much faith and trust in what you do. Hopefully, I can reward him.”
Atchison said he made an Opening Day roster for the third consecutive year when signed to a minor-league free-agent contract. It also happened in 2012 with Boston and in 2013 with the New York Mets.
More on third base
Francona said converted catcher Carlos Santana will “probably” play third base Monday at Oakland. He said center fielder Michael Bourn and designated hitter/first baseman Jason Giambi starting on the disabled list would play a part in that decision.
“I guess I don’t feel a huge need to label somebody something,” Francona said when asked for his Opening Day third baseman.
“We need to make sure we keep Yan [Gomes] fresh, so it will start with how much he needs to catch,” Antonetti said of Santana. “He’ll play some third. How much [will be] based upon how different guys are doing and a variety of other things.”
No bonus for Giambi
Antonetti said the Indians did not pay Giambi a $100,000 retention bonus. Signed to a minor-league free-agent contract, Giambi and the Indians decided to forego the bonus so he could be placed on the major league disabled list instead of the minor league list and make the season-opening trip to Oakland.
“We thought it was important for us to have Jason with us,” Antonetti said. “He’s a big part of what we do.”
Opening Day starter Justin Masterson finished the spring 4-0 with a 1.09 ERA in six appearances. In a 10-3 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday at Goodyear Ballpark, Masterson went 5.2 innings and gave up one run on three hits.
He walked two and struck out five.
“I think Masty prepared to haul a lot of innings and we’ll be excited he’ll be coming out of the chute,” Francona said. “I think he understands his responsibility. We love giving him the ball. He’s always got that smile when he comes off the field; he enjoys competing. I think he’s ready.”
With Gomes batting just .229 in 16 spring games, Francona played him in a Double-A Akron game Wednesday and Gomes went 2 for 2 with two doubles and two walks. Francona sent out outfielder David Murphy against minor leaguers Tuesday and said he got 10 at-bats and said he got stronger as he went. Murphy (.170) went 1 for 4 against the Brewers. … Zach McAllister (1-1, 6.06) will face the San Diego Padres Matt Wisler (1-0, 6.97) in Friday’s 9:10 p.m. exhibition at the University of San Diego and Danny Salazar (0-0, 1.69) will take on the Padres’ Eric Stults (2-1, 5.29) Saturday at 4:10 p.m.
Marla Ridenour can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.