Francona on upcoming season outlook, fifth starter

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Indians manager Terry Francona does not want any of his players caught by surprise when they look at the lineup card prior to a game. He plans on discussing any alterations to the lineup with them the night before each contest.

"Everybody, before they go home the night before, will always know if they're playing or not," Francona said. "There's a rare exception -- somebody's beat up a little bit or whatever. But everybody will know the night before. And the regulars, if you see a day [off] coming, I'll sit with a guy and [talk it over]."

Francona feels it is important to discuss such things with his players ahead of time.

"I never played for a manager that ever did that," he explained. "It just made sense to me. I think if you're a regular, and you know you've got a day off the next day, you wake up in the morning and it's a little different mindset. I think they appreciate it.

"And if you're an extra guy, you've got your routine where you come in and you lift or run, but if you know you're playing that day, it's different. I just think it helps."

Going over lineup decisions a day in advance also helps alleviate any negative reaction.

"If a guy is mad that he's not playing, he's got a night," Francona said. "He's not carrying it into the game. You've got to just stay ahead of it a little bit. I think players for the most part appreciate it."

Perez progressing well, may throw off hill Saturday

Perez, Francona break down pitcher's shoulder injury

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Indians could have their closer back on a mound by this weekend. All-Star Chris Perez has advanced through the early stages of his throwing program with no issues in his right shoulder, making it possible that he could throw in a bullpen session by Saturday.

Indians manager Terry Francona has been pleased with Perez's progress to this point.

"He's doing a good job," Francona said on Thursday morning. "He's pretty excited. We've got to kind of keep an eye on it. It's good. He's feeling really good about himself."

Perez played catch on Thursday morning, marking his second consecutive day of throwing. The right-hander is scheduled to rest on Friday, but could be cleared by Cleveland's medical team to resume pitching off a mound on the following day. Francona said it would be a brief mound session of approximately 10 pitches.

"It's certainly not ramping up," Francona said. "But it's another progression."

Perez suffered a right shoulder strain in his one-inning appearance against the Royals on Feb. 26. The Indians initially indicated that the 27-year-old closer would need at least three weeks before returning to game activity. A typical throwing progression includes a handful of bullpen sessions, live batting practice and simulated game action prior to working in games.

The Indians have not ruled Perez out for Opening Day, but Francona has made it clear that there is no "artificial deadline" for the pitcher's potential return date. If Perez is unable to join the Tribe for its April 2 season opener in Toronto, setup man Vinnie Pestano would be in line to serve as the team's temporary closer.

Last season, Perez saved 39 games, had a 3.59 ERA in 61 appearances and earned a spot on the American League All-Star team for the second straight year. Over the past three years, Perez ranks fifth in the Majors in saves (98) and save percentage (89.1). He signed a one-year, $7.3 million contract this past winter to avoid arbitration.

During Spring Training a year ago, Perez suffered an oblique injury in his first bullpen session and was sidelined from Cactus League action until March 29. The closer logged only three official innings in three appearances and was cleared to join the Opening Day roster.

Reynolds willing to trade strikeouts for power

Francona on Masterson's outing, Reynolds' progression

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Mark Reynolds is no longer concerned with what is written about him. When he was younger, the countless articles about his high strikeout totals bothered him. These days, the Indians designated hitter accepts who he is as a player and ignores what others think.

Reynolds knows the strikeouts are simply a byproduct of his style of slugging.

"Early on in my career, it was a big distraction," Reynolds said. "Now, whatever you guys write, I really don't care. I'm going to go play my game. I'm going to go out and drive in runs. I'm just going to do what I can to get those numbers that can't go down, to get those to keep going up."

The numbers Reynolds referred to were home runs and RBIs. He knows that, when healthy (an issue early on last season), he can provide the kind of right-handed power that Cleveland has lacked in recent seasons. Reynolds' batting average might suffer, and the strikeout total could soar, but the power potential helps the Indians accept those numbers.

That is the mindset the club has taken when it comes to Reynolds' numbers.

"You just live with it," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "The last thing I want to tell him to do is to not strikeout. That's not going to work. That's like telling a pitcher, 'Don't walk somebody.' Just go up there and we're looking for production, however that comes. It comes in a lot of different ways."

Dating back to 2008, Reynolds leads the Major Leagues with 993 strikeouts. Over that same time period, he ranks fourth in baseball in home runs by a right-handed hitter (164). Only Albert Pujols (193), Miguel Cabrera (183) and Ryan Braun (168) have launched more homers in that span.

Reynolds averaged 208 strikeouts per year from 2008-11, but he also posted an average of 35 home runs and 92 RBIs in that same four-year stretch. He set the single-season strikeout record with 223 in 2009, but that season he also hit .260 with 44 home runs and 102 RBIs for the D-backs.

"After that year people kind of laid off a little bit," Reynolds said. "I don't let it bother me. I've matured a lot since then. I was 24 years old. I was worried about what everybody thought about me. Now, I really don't care. I focus on what I can do and try to be productive."

Quote to note

"It's wide open. I know for those guys that are in that competition, it's huge. I respect that. From where we sit, it's not the end of the world. Somebody is going to break with us, and there's no doubt during the year we're going to go through more than five starters."
--Francona, on the race for the rotation's fifth spot

Smoke signals

• Indians backup catcher Lou Marson was out of the lineup on Thursday for the second game in a row. Francona said Marson was suffering from "intestinal turmoil," which is more frequently referred to as flu-like symptoms.

• Right-hander Corey Kluber -- a candidate for the fifth starting role -- pitched during a "B" game against the Mariners on Thursday morning. Francona said Kluber, who logged four scoreless innings with three strikeouts and three hits allowed, was focusing on pitching inside to left-handed hitters.

• Right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka, who left his outing on Monday after one inning due to a calf cramp, felt "a little tender" on Wednesday, according to Francona. Matsuzaka threw a bullpen session with no issues on Thursday, but Cleveland has not announced when he will next appear in a game.

• Relievers Cody Allen, Rich Hill and Matt Capps each appeared in Thursday morning's "B" game at Cleveland's complex. Allen allowed one hit in one inning, Hill chalked up one strikeout in his only frame and Capps scattered two hits in his lone inning of work.