There will be no shortage of left-handed bullpen arms this spring.
Even with eight southpaws between their 40-man roster and 17-man list of non-roster invitees, the Cleveland Indians continued their quest for depth at the position on Monday afternoon.
In addition to the off-season acquisitions of Boone Logan, Hoby Milner and Tim Cooney, the Tribe reportedly signed LHP James Russell to a minor league contract with an invitation to big league camp, according to Tommy Stokke of FanRag Sports and confirmed by Jordan Bastian of MLB.com.
Russell split time between Triple-A and the MLB as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals in 2016 before electing for free agency on Oct. 3. The 31-year-old hurler has struggled to piece together a full season at the major league level since 2014 when he flourished with the Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves (2.97 ERA, 57.2 IP, 45 H, 20 R, 19 ER, 20 BB 42 K).
Since that campaign, opposing hitters have figured out Russell's pitching tactics and batted .307 and .429 against him in 2015 and 2016 respectively. A product of legendary head coach Augie Garrido and the Texas Longhorns, Russell only made seven appearances last season but surrendered nine hits, nine earned runs and five walks in just 4.1 innings of work (3.23 WHIP).
As the son of retired RHP Jeff Russell, a 14-year MLB veteran from 1983-96, James Russell will have to prove himself at spring training if he wants a spot on the big league roster in 2017. With Andrew Miller and Logan already slotted into the pen, Columbus could be the opening day destination for the former 14th round pick.
The Indians' first pitchers and catchers workout is slated for this Tuesday in Goodyear, AZ.
John Alfes has covered the Indians for IBI since August of 2016. Follow him on Twitter @JohnAlfes for breaking news and in-depth coverage all season long.