Spring Training Notes 2/16: Gomes tabbed as everyday catcher

Despite an injury-riddled 2016 campaign, it only took three practices for manager Terry Francona to deem Yan Gomes the everyday catcher. In addition, position players reported to spring training on Thursday as they prepare for their first full squad workout on Saturday. The IBI's John Alfes runs down the hot topics from Goodyear, AZ...

Some decisions come sooner rather than later.

For manager Terry Francona, the critical choice of which catcher to start was likely made before spring training even started.

The Cleveland Indians skipper officially tabbed Yan Gomes as the opening day starter with Roberto Perez slated to be his backup. Now that the backstop competition has already found its resolution, Francona spoke at length about Brandon Guyer, Lonnie Chisenhall and Michael Brantley in an undecided outfield rotation.

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- Whether it was a predetermined decision or not, Gomes has his sights set on an everyday job after a dismal 2016 season defined by a separated right shoulder and fractured right wrist. Perez will be the backup with Adam Moore, Erik Kratz, Guillermo Quiroz and Francisco Mejia acting as insurance options in the farm system.

"It is a clean slate," said Francona to an assembled group of media. "If we have a situation where we have two catchers and we just can't find at-bats because they're so good - good for us."

"We have two good catchers. We're fortunate." 

- Brantley remains the center of attention this spring as Francona has been bombarded with questions pertaining to his shoulder recovery and hitting progression. As another day of camp passes, Brantley is still hitting off a tee and will likely miss the Tribe's first Cactus League game against the Cincinnati Reds on Feb. 25.

- By avoiding arbitration and signing a two-year deal with a club option for 2019, Guyer will share time in right field alongside Lonnie Chisenhall in what figures to be a lethal platoon. The 31-year-old is also scheduled for work in center field and could shift to left field if Brantley is sidelined to start the season.

- With the 2017 World Baseball Classic just over 17 days away, Francona admitted he is anxious for his pitchers. As shown by the unraveling of former right-handed reliever Vinnie Pestano, the WBC can instill fear in a manager due to the possibility of an early-season injury. Andrew Miller, Joseph Colon, Francisco Lindor, Roberto Perez, Carlos Santana and Giovanny Urshela will represent the 40-man roster in the fourth edition of the international event.

"We'll be thrilled when they come back," Francona said. "We value the repetition, but we don't want [our pitchers] doing it with a runner on third, trying to throw their best [pitch]. That's how guys get hurt. So yeah, our heart's in our throat a little bit."

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.

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