First off, just a quick note to say that the Indians made more cuts to the Spring Training roster. There are still 46 players in major league camp, so they haven’t yet gotten to the painful cuts that the rest of us will argue about. Lefty pitcher Scott Barnes, who had a 7.27 ERA during the 2013 regular season but has had a 1.50 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in 6 innings during Spring Training, has been optioned to AAA Columbus along with fellow lefty pitcher Nick Hagadone.
In addition,pitchers Travis Banwart, Tyler Cloyd, and J.C. Ramirez (all righties) and left-handed pitcher Mike Zagurski have been re-assigned to minor league camp, leaving Scrabble as the lone lefty-ski in the bullpen (but far from the only lefty).
At work today, a colleague said, “Hey, what do you think of Elliot Johnson?” Truth be told, up until the past few days, I haven’t thought much about Johnson. The Indians signed him to a minor league contract with a non-roster Spring Training invite back in late January. Johnson is only a career .218 hitter over four major league seasons (in two of those he played well under 100 games). He only has 33 at bats so far this spring (which gives him more than anybody but Chisenhall and David Murphy), but his line currently reads: .364 AVG/.382 OBP/.697 SLG. Not bad. Johnson bounced around the Tampa Bay system, then spent the 2013 season between Kansas City and Atlanta. One thing he has going for him is versatility; he’s a switch hitter who has played every position except pitcher and catcher in the majors. Fellow IPL writer Vern Morrison asked the other day “Who benefits from Giambi’s broken rib?” With Mike Aviles and Ryan Raburn pretty locks to reprise their Goon Squad roles on the bench, there’s still a spot left on the bench. So who’s Elliot Johnson? He might end up being the guy to benefit from Giambi’s cracked rib.