Smoke signals

• Francona has made it no secret that he holds 42-year-old veteran Giambi in high regard. That said, Francona said Wednesday that he is not ready to say whether Giambi (a non-roster invitee vying for a job as a part-time designated hitter and pinch-hitter) is a front-runner for a spot on Cleveland's bench.

"There's no denying that we love him -- absolutely love him," Francona said. "But I don't want to start talking about the roster yet. I don't think that's fair, because somebody else will read something into it. If everybody stays healthy, we're going to have some difficult decisions."

• According to Francona, Indians sidearmer Joe Smith felt fine on Wednesday, one day after making his Cactus League debut with a one-inning appearance against the Giants. Smith, who had a minor left abdominal strain early in camp, allowed two runs on two hits, but threw 13 of his 14 pitches for strikes.

"I think he said he was a little tight, but nothing [to worry about]," Francona said. "He's really taken care of himself really well. The fact that he came out and pounded strike after strike after strike, that was really encouraging."

• Indians left fielder Michael Brantley, who suffered a left forearm laceration after being spiked while sliding into third base against the A's on Feb. 25, will likely have his stitches removed on either Thursday or Friday. Brantley might be cleared to resume game activity at some point this weekend.

• Indians right-hander Matt Albers, who is a leading candidate for a spot in the club's Opening Day bullpen, worked one inning in a Minor League "B" game on Wednesday. Albers allowed no runs on one hit with one walk and three outs via grounders. He threw 13 pitches, including seven strikes.

• Francona noted that Swisher has been keeping his throwing arm "stretched out" for potential use as a right fielder for the Indians. The manager added that Cleveland will likely play Swisher in right field later this spring to keep him ready for possible part-time outfield duty.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.