Non-roster invites expected to increase competition

Non-roster invites expected to increase competition

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Indians manager Terry Francona looks at his list of non-roster invitees and sees a slew of players who can realistically contend for the Opening Day roster. If Francona's first spring at the helm for Cleveland was any indication, that group is undoubtedly valued.

Consider that four non-roster invitees -- Scott Kazmir, Jason Giambi, Ryan Raburn and Rich Hill -- made the Opening Day roster last spring and played key roles during the season.

"To be honest with you, we really don't know who's going to break with us," Francona said. "We're going to have some pretty healthy competition and we have some veteran guys to do it. I think the game's changed a little bit. Guys see guys coming in non-roster, and that's not the end all, be all."

Giambi, who is a favorite of Francona's for his veteran leadership and pinch-hitting ability, returns as a non-roster invitee this spring. Others among the Tribe's 24 non-roster candidates include outfielders Jeff Francoeur and Nyjer Morgan, infielders Elliot Johnson and Bryan LaHair, relievers David Aardsma, Matt Capps and Scott Atchison, catcher Matt Treanor, and starters Shaun Marcum and Aaron Harang, among others.

With one spot open in the rotation, two or three jobs available in the bullpen and a bench spot or two up for grabs, the non-roster players are in a good position this spring.

"It's just a way of doing business in winter and you're able to bring in guys," Francona said. "We had four non-roster guys last year that made it. That's the reality of baseball now. Every team does it."

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.