Notes: Indians get Rule 5 picks back

Notes: Indians get Rule 5 picks back

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. -- The Indians lost two pretty promising prospects to December's Rule 5 Draft. Now, they're getting them back.

Outfielder Ryan Goleski and right-hander Jim Ed Warden will be returned to the organization and assigned to Minor League camp, the club announced Wednesday.

The Devil Rays had taken Goleski with the first pick in the draft and immediately traded him to the A's, who will not give him an Opening Day roster spot. Warden had been taken by the Phillies in the second round, but did not make Philadelphia's bullpen.

"We're very excited to have both of them back," farm director Ross Atkins said Wednesday night "I've already called both individuals and told them how important they are to us. They are very much a part of our success. Anybody who gets to Double-A and Triple-A and has success with us is very much in our plans."

The Indians' task, now, is to figure out what to do with these guys.

Warden, most likely, will be able to find a home in the Triple-A Buffalo bullpen. But Goleski is being thrown back into a congested outfield mix in the upper ranks of the Indians' system.

The Buffalo outfield is expected to have a rotation of Shin-Soo Choo, Ben Francisco, Franklin Gutierrez and Brad Snyder, so Goleski is bound for Double-A Akron -- a level where he already proved himself in 2006. He'll be joined there by Trevor Crowe and Brian Barton.

Despite the outfield glut, the Indians reportedly rejected Oakland's push to make a trade to keep Goleski. The Tribe does not appear to be in a hurry to deal from their position of greatest depth.

Goleski did not mince words when talking to Oakland reporters about the development. He was clearly disappointed.

"I thought the whole Rule 5 thing was a way to get out of Cleveland," he told the San Francisco Chronicle. "I wonder why Cleveland wants me back. I don't even know if they have a spot for me at Triple-A or Double-A. It doesn't make sense. Don't say you want to hold onto me, and then say you don't have a position for me."

Last season, Goleski hit .306 with 27 homers in 445 at-bats between Class A Kinston and Akron. But when the A's paid the Rays $100,000 as compensation for the draft pick to acquire Goleski, they were not aware he had surgery in early November to remove bone chips from his right wrist.

This spring, while working his way back from the wrist injury, the 25-year-old Goleski batted .152 (7-for-46) with a double and four RBIs in 21 games.

Spring Training
News and features:
• Sabathia struck by liner:  350K
• Shapiro feels good about club:  350K
• Spring Training update from Wedge:  350K
• Sabathia excited for opener:  350K
• Tribe pitching coach Carl Willis:  350K
Spring Training info: coverage  |  Schedule  |  Ballpark  |  Tickets

The 6-foot-7 Warden, 27, went 5-2 with a 2.90 ERA in 55 appearances for Akron last year. He struck out 47 batters and walked 29. In camp with the Phils, he went 0-1 with a 5.68 ERA in seven games.

The Indians received $50,000 each for the losses of Goleski and Warden at the time of the draft. They will pay half of that back to the A's and Phillies.

The Rule 5 system can lead to hard feelings, because players often find themselves bounced around. Atkins said the Indians will make it a point to get Goleski and Warden in the right mindset for the season ahead.

"We'll help them understand they are very much a potential Major Leaguer," he said. "We'll do our best to communicate how important they are to us and get them focused on the right things. And those things are baseball."

Rotation situation: All talk of the Indians' probable pitchers for the first week of the season is dependant, of course, on the health of ace left-hander C.C. Sabathia, who came out of Wednesday's start against the Blue Jays with a bruised left forearm.

But if Sabathia is ready to start Opening Day in Chicago, his second start would come at home Saturday, April 7, against the Mariners. That would make fifth starter Fausto Carmona the probable pitcher the following day.

To prepare for that April 8 start, Carmona, who's filling in for an injured Cliff Lee, will get the ball Tuesday in Class A Lake County against Double-A Akron.

Right-hander Jake Westbrook and left-hander Jeremy Sowers will pitch the second and third games, respectively, against the White Sox. Paul Byrd is currently scheduled to pitch the home opener against the Mariners on April 6. Byrd will throw in an extended Spring Training game Sunday to prepare for that outing.

Road to recovery: In the Indians camp, he's that other Cliff going through rehab. Since signing a Minor League deal with the club on Feb. 14, Cliff Politte has been working behind the scenes to come back from August rotator cuff surgery.

"It's been really hard," Politte said of going through Spring Training in the background. "I've been doing it, really, since July of last year. But last year, it was fine, because there was something wrong with my shoulder and I had a bad year. Coming here to a new team and sitting back and watching is tough."

Politte, 32, went 2-2 with a 8.70 ERA in 30 games with the White Sox last season. That injury-plagued year came after a dominant '05, in which he went 7-1 with a 2.00 ERA in 68 appearances, allowing just 42 hits in 67 1/3 innings.

The good news on Politte's road to recovery is that he's begun playing catch every other day. He's expected to begin throwing off a mound in four to six weeks and is still on track toward being ready to pitch in games sometime in June. Politte did have a slight setback in his recovery a couple weeks ago. He said it was egged on by his over-eagerness to get back on the mound.

"This winter, looking for a job, I kind of rushed a bit," he said. "I was throwing off a mound at 5 1/2 months, when the protocol at that point is just to be doing long toss."

Tribe tidbits: There will be a member of the Phillips family playing in Cleveland in April, and it, of course, won't be Brandon, the former Tribe infielder who was traded to the Reds last spring. Brandon's sister, Porsha, is on the LSU women's basketball team, which has reached the Final Four in Cleveland. Porsha is a 6-foot-2 freshman who has averaged 3.8 points and 2.9 rebounds, where as Brandon is a 6-foot-even starting second baseman for Cincinnati. ... Speaking of the women's Final Four, the Indians had the option of opening the regular season at home for the first time since 2001, but they opted not to conflict with the basketball event, being held next door at Quicken Loans Arena. ... Grady Sizemore appeared on ESPN2's "Cold Pizza" program Wednesday morning, discussing the upcoming season.

Don't forget ... The Indians are inviting all fans to come on over for a free open house from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. CT on Saturday at Jacobs Field. Concession items will be just $1, and fans can buy tickets, explore the brand new Heritage Park, visit Kids Zone and receive a free promotional item from 2006.

On deck: Carmona will take the next step in preparing for his opportunity to replace Lee when he makes his final Grapefruit League start against the Braves at 1:05 p.m. ET Thursday at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex. He'll oppose right-hander Tim Hudson.

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.