Spring Training Notes 3/26: Austin Jackson makes Opening Day roster

Terry Francona's Opening Day roster is beginning to take form after a bevy of roster moves were made prior to Sunday's Cactus League affair. The IBI's John Alfes details all 10 of the transactions from a busy morning in Goodyear, Ariz.

Eight days separates the Cleveland Indians from their first game on Apr. 3 against the Texas Rangers.

With that brief period of time in mind, the club announced their introductory plans for who will be a part of the Opening Day festivities on Sunday morning.

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- Barring an injury, Austin Jackson has made the major league team after slashing .375/.375/.708 (9-for-24) with one home run, five doubles and five RBIs this spring. Jackson sat out the final four months of the 2016 season with the Chicago White Sox due to a medial meniscus tear in his left knee. 

"I thought he did a really good job of getting himself ready and then being prepared," said manager Terry Francona. "I think he is going to be a very good complimentary player. He knows how to play and he's a good veteran. I think he's going to bring something to our ballclub."

The 30-year-old has seven years of MLB service time, three seasons with 10+ home runs and four years with 17+ stolen bases. Most notably, Jackson has 41 defensive runs saved, 26 of which came in a 2011 campaign where he also finished first in defensive wins above replacement (3.4).

"You watch him move around and he's moving fine," Francona said. "He may not be as fast as he used to be; that doesn't mean he's not going to be a good outfielder."

- In a corresponding move, the Tribe optioned Mike Clevinger and Joe Colon to Triple-A Columbus. Both pitchers posted double-digit ERAs in the Cactus League to fall out of contention for a spot in the starting rotation and bullpen respectively.

"Clev needs to go get stretched out," said Francona. "His future is really bright and we believe that or we wouldn't tell him that. Don't forget to enjoy being young and having fun getting better - there's nothing wrong with that. We fully expect that we'll be seeing him at some point and he's going to help us win."

Colon came up short in his pursuit for the final spot in the pen despite his success at the 2017 World Baseball Classic - 5 games, 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R/ER, 1 BB, 5 K.

"A reliever that I would be surprised if we don't see at some point," Francona said. "He just needs to go have some repetition at the highers levels because he went pretty quick last year."

- To clear space on the major league practice fields this upcoming week, the Indians reassigned Adam Moore, Richie Shaffer and Bradley Zimmer to minor league camp, none of which were viewed as realistic options to make the team in April.

"[Shaffer] has really turned his spring around," said Francona. "He became a threat pretty much every time he went to the plate."

Zimmer remains an intriguing prospect with the potential to make his debut when the opportunity presents itself later this year. The 21st overall pick in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft finished the Cactus League batting .358 (19-for-53) with three home runs, 14 RBIs and four stolen bases.

"This kid did everything in camp," Francona said. "He ran the bases, he improved in the outfield, he swung the bat, he made adjustments at the plate - it was a very exciting camp for him."

- Although they will stay with the MLB club for the remainder of spring training, the Indians informed Tyler Olson, Erik Kratz, Chris Colabello and Daniel Robertson.that they have not made the Game 1 roster.

"We like having [Colabello] around," said Francona. "All the things you talk about in that first meeting about trying to be part of what we're doing, the cultures - he fit right in from the first day."

All four of the reassigned players figure to earn substantial playing time at the Triple-A level in the early stages of the 2017 season.

- Lonnie Chisenhall is feeling "much improved," according to the Tribe's medical staff. The left-handed half of the club's right field platoon slammed into the wall at Sloan Park and was diagnosed with a right shoulder sprain on Friday.

- Cody Anderson will undergo Tommy John surgery with Dr. Keith Meister on Monday in Texas.

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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