GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- An unusual start to the Indians' regular-season schedule might influence the construction of the team's Opening Day roster.
Cleveland is considering carrying 13 pitchers -- as opposed to baseball's more customary 12-man staff -- due to having no off-days for nearly the first two weeks of April. The Tribe is scheduled to play 13 consecutive games out of the gate with its first off-day slated for April 15.
The Indians open their season with back-to-back three-game road trips to Toronto (April 2-4) and Tampa Bay (April 5-7) -- a pair of domed stadiums -- before hosting the Yankees and White Sox in a seven-game homestand from April 8-14. Francona said the team is weighing whether to have an extra reliever on hand due to the daunting opening schedule.
"It's something we need to think about," Francona said on Sunday. "It's definitely something we've talked about a number of times. A lot of times you start the season out, you're either in cold weather and you have days off. We're in domes and we don't have days off. So it's something to think about."
As things stand, the bullpen projects to include closer Chris Perez, setup men Vinnie Pestano and Joe Smith, and right-hander Matt Albers. Others in the mix for jobs include Bryan Shaw, Cody Allen, Nick Hagadone, Scott Barnes, David Huff, Rich Hill and Matt Capps.
Albers and Huff are both out of Minor League options, while Hill and Capps are in camp as non-roster invitees.
If Cleveland opted to carry eight relievers on its Opening Day roster, that means the team would begin the season with three position players on the bench. Utility man Mike Aviles and backup catcher Lou Marson are in line for two of those jobs. Players in the mix for the final spot or two are Jason Giambi (non-roster), Ryan Raburn (non-roster), Yan Gomes and Ezequiel Carrera (out of options), among others.
"We're going to do whatever we think puts us in the best position to succeed," Francona said.
Brantley returns vs. Rangers, will be ready for season
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Indians left fielder Michael Brantley returned to the field on Sunday after spending the better part of the past two weeks recovering from a left forearm laceration.
For Sunday's Cactus League contest against the Rangers, Brantley served as the designated hitter and hit in the leadoff spot. It marked his first game appearance since being spiked while sliding in a game on Feb. 25 against the A's.
"He's fine," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "He's been doing stuff. He'll be just fine. He might've lost his timing a little bit, but he's got plenty of time to get it back."
In the third inning of Cleveland's 14-10 win over Oakland earlier this spring, Brantey doubled and attempted to advance to third base on the play. He got into a foot race with with A's third baseman Josh Donaldson, who accidentally stepped on Brantley's left forearm as he slid head-first into the base.
Brantley required 15 stitches to seal the wound and had them removed on Thursday. He was a full participant in workouts over the past couple of days and is scheduled to return to left field in Monday's home game against the Angels.
Francona gave Brantley the choice of working as a DH in a Minor League "B" game on Monday morning or playing left field in the Cactus League game against Los Angeles. Brantley told his manager that he wants to get back in the outfield as soon as possible.
"He said he wanted to get in the outfield and move around," Francona said.
Prior to the injury, the 25-year-old Brantley had gone 5-for-6 with four doubles and two RBIs this spring. In his first game back with the team on Sunday, he flew out to center field in the first inning and grounded out to Texas second baseman Ian Kinsler in the second.
Last season, Brantley hit .288 with six homers, 37 doubles, 60 RBIs and 63 runs in 149 games for the Indians.
Huff competing for bullpen role, not rotation spot
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- David Huff had been hoping to have a conversation with Indians manager Terry Francona to get some clarity about his potential role on the pitching staff. Huff received his wish when he was approached by Francona on Sunday morning.
With three weeks remaining in camp, Huff was informed that he is now competing for a spot in Cleveland's bullpen. When Spring Training opened, the Indians had the left-handed pitcher in the mix for either a starting or relief role.
"I was going to go in and talk to him eventually," Huff said. "Him and I are on the same page. He came in, he clarified and he kept me in the loop. He was honest, which we haven't had that. That's big, especially to us. It's awesome."
Huff added that he was "totally fine" with transitioning to a bullpen role.
In four Cactus League appearances this spring, Huff has gone 1-0 with a 5.40 ERA over 10 innings, during which he has allowed six runs on 10 hits (three home runs) with eight strikeouts and three walks. Huff has, however, paced all of the Tribe's pitchers in first-pitch strikes (at a rate of 83 percent) and strikes on 1-1 counts (80 percent).
Given that Huff had his innings built up like a starter early in spring, the Indians could take a look at him as a long reliever.
"That's the good part about getting him stretched out," Francona said. "We have the ability right now to have a guy that can throw multiple innings. He throws strikes. Where this goes, we don't know yet, but I'm glad we stretched him out. I think it's been good for him, and I think it'll help us."
Huff -- selected 39th overall in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft by the Indians -- spent most of last season with Triple-A Coumbus, but went 3-1 with a 3.38 ERA in six outings with Cleveland. Over parts of four seasons in the big leagues, the lefty has gone 18-26 with a 5.30 ERA in 55 games with 157 strikeouts and 97 walks in 285 1/3 innings.
"Being in the bullpen last year, I had fun with it. I enjoyed it," said Huff, who is out of Minor League options. "If it ends up not working out, I understand. It's a business. But, all in all, if I had my choice, I'd want to stay."
Quote to note
"Every time I take the mound, I want our team to know we have a very good chance to win"
--Indians pitcher Zach McAllister, who was named the No. 4 starter on Sunday
• Designated hitter Mark Reynolds has not played in a game since March 6 due to minor back stiffness. On Sunday morning, Reynolds hit off a tee and played catch up to a distance of 90 feet with no issues. He might be ready to return to game play on Wednesday, following Tuesday's team off-day.
"It's just standard Spring Training soreness," Reynolds said. "You can't really train for standing around. It's not a big deal. They're just giving me a couple extra days to make sure it all goes away."
• Indians manager Terry Francona was surprised that World Baseball Classic, Inc. did not suspend any of the players involved in the bench-clearing incident between the teams from Canada and Mexico in Saturday's tournament game. Seven players were ejected in Canada's 10-3 win.
"It surprised me there weren't any suspensions," Francona said on Sunday. "That was really surprising to me. There were some haymakers flying. I don't understand. Maybe there is a different set of rules. I don't know. That was really surprising to me."
• Closer Chris Perez, sidelined with a right shoulder sprain, was deemed asymptomatic on Sunday and allowed to resume throwing. Perez played catch up to a distance of 60 feet and will continue a gradual throwing program with the goal of potentially returning to spring games around the final week of camp.
• Reliever Frank Herrmann (right elbow injury) is scheduled to meet with Dr. David Altchek in New York on Tuesday to have his ailing arm evaluated. If surgery is required -- Tommy John ligament-replacement surgery is a possibility -- the procedure will likely take place on Wednesday.
• The Indians hosted a group of 25 United States Marines and Navy Corpsmen from Camp Pendleton and the Naval Regional Medical Center in San Diego. Each person in attendance had been awarded the Purple Heart for injuries sustained in combat. The group was on hand as part of the Strikeouts For Troops program.