GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Indians currently have a wide-open competition brewing this spring for the backup-catching job. Lou Marson is the only backup candidate on Cleveland's 40-man roster, but that does not mean he is necessarily the favorite to land the job.
"He's here to battle for the backup job," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "He's battling those other guys."
The "other guys" include non-roster invitees Luke Carlin, Paul Phillips and Juan Apodaca. Minor League catching prospect Chun Chen is also a non-roster invitee for the Indians, but he is on hand to help handle the bullpen sessions for the many pitchers currently in camp, not to compete for a big league job.
Marson spent 87 games with Cleveland last year, but the 24-year-old catcher -- acquired from the Phillies in the July 2009 trade that originally sent Cliff Lee to Philadelphia -- hit at a .195 clip while in the Majors. Acta said the Indians need to decide if Marson would benefit from regular playing time at Triple-A.
"It is a decision we're going to have to make at the end of camp," Acta said. "We want to do what's best for Lou, but we also want to leave with the best guys. If we can come up with enough opportunity for Lou with him up here, and we think we're better with him here as the backup, then that's what we'll do."
Entering into the equation is the fact that starting catcher Carlos Santana will see some time as a first baseman and designated hitter this season. The Tribe wants to keep Santana's legs fresh with days off from catching, especially considering he is returning from a left knee injury, but the club still wants to find ways to keep his bat in the lineup.
Acta noted that Eduardo Perez (recently hired as a special assistant to baseball operations) and Mike Hargrove (a special advisor to the club as well as a former player and manager) will work with Santana at first base this spring.