Spring Training Notes 3/28: Shawn Armstrong wins final spot in bullpen

It took over seven full weeks of spring training for Terry Francona and his staff to decide on who deserves the final spot in the Cleveland Indians bullpen. The IBI's John Alfes unveils their selection...

Generally, little consideration is put into a players' spring training statistics as they have little correlation with how they perform in the regular season.

For Shawn Armstrong, a near-perfect performance throughout the 2017 Cactus League earned him a big league opportunity with the defending American League champions.

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- 10 games, 10 innings, one earned run and 10 strikeouts. There was little Armstrong did wrong this spring in his pursuit for the final spot in the Tribe bullpen.

"He's come a long way," said manager Terry Francona. "He has earned the praise that he's getting today and the responsibility that comes with making a team. He's earned that. It wasn't given to him. And it's exciting to watch young guys do that."

Francona broke the news that Kyle Crockett, Carlos Frias and Nick Goody were optioned to Triple-A Columbus to pave way to the 26-year-old's first career Opening Day roster spot on Tuesday morning.

"We agonized over it," Francona said about how difficult it was in making the final decision. "The last cuts you know are generally the hardest. Crockett came in and had an excellent camp. Frias started late, but we've loved what we've seen. And Goody didn't give up a run - maybe one. He was probably the hardest."

The seven-man bullpen employed by Francona in 2016 seems to be the plan of attack moving forward.

- The hope is that Michael Brantley will be the starting left fielder come April 3, according to general manager Chris Antonetti. Brantley went through a hitting progression throughout January and February before ramping it up and taking major strides in batting practice and game situations over the course of March.

"It's been great," said Antonetti. "We've been really positive, really encouraged by the way Michael's met every one of the checkpoints and the way he's progressed through spring."

No permanent decision has been made, but the plan is for Brantley to play on Wednesday and Thursday before a reevaluation towards his Game 1 status is made.

"We have the responsibility to make sure that we're being thoughtful in building up his volume and putting him in a position to succeed over the long term," Antonetti said. "Michael's in a really good spot right now and hopefully that will continue."

- The Indians reportedly had a two-hour discussion pertaining to the everyday third base job on Tuesday morning. Similar to Brantley, no conclusion has been reached with Yandy Diaz, Giovanny Urshela and Michael Martinez in the mix for a consistent role at the hot corner come April.

- Daniel Robertson exited Tuesday's game against Milwaukee with a leg injury on a bases-loaded double. The 31-year-old utility man is projected to start the year in Triple-A after being informed he would not make the Opening Day roster on Monday.

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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