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Alex Escobar and Coco Crisp received the good news on Friday. Thanks to Milton Bradley, both of them are on the team.
The Indians completed their roster -- pending a trade of Bradley -- by adding the two outfielders. Manager Eric Wedge had wanted to keep both Escobar and Crisp but had only one vacancy.
"What impressed me about both guys is that we asked them to do certain things, and both of them went right after it," Wedge said.
The manager wanted Crisp to concentrate on taking more direct routes to fly balls, improve his arm strength and emphasize getting on base. Escobar's assignments: Get comfortable at the plate, put the fat part of the bat on the ball and become at ease playing all three outfield posts.
After a successful spring, Crisp admitted he would have been disappointed not to make the team, though he was ready for that eventuality.
"That's probably how I would have felt, but I don't feel that way now," he said. "I tried to do everything they wanted."
Crisp said he didn't realize the impact the Bradley situation had on him.
"I didn't really know what was going on with Milton," Crisp said.
Because of his power potential, Escobar was the favorite to win a roster spot.
"You never really know, though," he said. "I never take anything for granted. I thought I played well, but it was their decision."
Bradley's malfeasance and the subsequent decision to dump him created the extra opening. So now that Crisp and Escobar have made it, what will they do?
"I'd like to keep Jody Gerut in right and Matt Lawton in left, so Coco and Alex will work in center," said Wedge, referring to Bradley's former position. "Who's out there will depend on the kind of lineup we want, who is on the mound, those kinds of things."
Neither Crisp nor Escobar will be the regular center fielder for the time being, but Wedge declined to call them a platoon, because factors other than which arm the opposing pitcher uses to deliver the ball will come into play.
"I wouldn't call it a platoon," the manager said. "I feel comfortable with both guys hitting against lefties and righties."
On the other hand, because Escobar bats from the right side and Crisp is a switch-hitter, both players can step in against left-handed pitchers. That might be important in light of the way Ben Broussard and Travis Hafner -- both left-handed batters -- struggled against left-handers last season.
"Depending on how Broussard and Hafner do against lefties, Coco and Alex both could get some at-bats at DH," Wedge said.
For now, Broussard is scheduled to play first base most of the time. Hafner is the regular DH, but he probably will play some games at first, too.
Bradley's impending departure creates another problem: Who will bat in the cleanup spot? When a team loses its cleanup batter, a mini-crisis often ensues.
But Bradley wasn't a traditional No. 4 hitter. He is neither a longball specialist nor a proven RBI machine, though some of the Tribe's deep-thinkers believed he would develop into a first-class run producer.
At any rate, because of the suddenness with which Bradley became an unwanted cog in the machine, Wedge hasn't had time to consider all of his alternatives.
"I'm working through that right now," the manager said.
The obvious candidates to bat cleanup are Broussard against right-handers and Escobar against lefties.
On the other hand, batting cleanup is a pressure-filled spot in the lineup, and Wedge might not want to force Escobar into that slot.
"Whoever ends up there, I want to make sure he understands that the emphasis is not on him but on the team, one through nine," Wedge said.
In other words, the manager does not expect the cleanup batter to carry the offense or be responsible for driving in every key run.
Crisp is the only legitimate leadoff batter type on the roster. But at least for a while, he will not hit at the top of the lineup.
Matt Lawton will continue to lead off against right-handers, and Ronnie Belliard will hit first against lefties. Crisp, more than likely, will bat eighth or ninth.
Again, Wedge does not want to add unnecessary stress by asking Crisp to immediately bat in a pressure-filled position in the lineup.
"I want to be fair to Coco," the manager said. "He is definitely a prototype leadoff hitter, but I want to be fair in how I work him into it."
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