Despite reassignment, McDade on Indians' radar

MARYVALE, Ariz. -- Mike McDade was not going to make the Indians' Opening Day roster, but he certainly put himself on the team's radar.

On Friday, Cleveland made a pair of roster reductions, optioning McDade to Triple-A Columbus and reassigning non-roster invitee infielder Nate Spears to Minor League camp. McDade, who was claimed off waivers from the Blue Jays in November, made a good impression on manager Terry Francona.

"I think he's got a bright future," Francona said.

When Cleveland acquired the 23-year-old McDade -- a switch-hitting first baseman -- Francona said the scouting reports were "all over the map." McDade's large frame (6-foot-1, 250 pounds) was considered a potential issue by some evaluators, but Francona did not see any issues along those lines this spring.

In 16 Cactus League games with the Indians, McDade hit .400 (12-for-30) with one home run, two doubles and 10 RBIs. He also handled himself well at first base.

"Seeing him in person," Francona said, "he can hit, and he can hit from both sides. And he can actually play first. ... And I think he has a chance to hit good pitching. It looked to me like he could hit velocity. You see in Spring Training sometimes younger kids maybe come up and get a few hits, but maybe it's off an 86 [mph pitch]. Every time we've faced good pitching, he's had really good at-bats."

Last year, McDade hit .285 with a .360 on-base percentage and a .445 slugging percentage between stops with Double-A New Hampshire and Triple-A Las Vegas in Toronto's farm system. He compiled 17 home runs, 19 doubles and 67 RBIs in 118 Minor League games in 2012. McDade then hit .286 in 24 games with Este in the Dominican Winter League.

Francona did note that he reminded McDade to keep his weight in check throughout the season.

"We actually talked about that a little bit," Francona said. "I think that's probably dogged him most of his career -- people keep hammering on him about it. I didn't want to do that to him. I just said, 'Hey, look man your future is important.' He has to keep an eye on it, and I told him, 'I hope you do, because I think you have a chance to play in the Major Leagues.'"

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for 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.