Duncan, Kearns signed to Minors deals
From the “shot in the dark” department, the Indians signed OF/1B Shelley Duncan and OF Austin Kearns to Minor League deals with Spring Training invites.
So where do these guys fit into the Spring Training picture?
Well, with Matt LaPorta working his way back from hip and toe surgeries, the Indians are trying to protect themselves at first base and in the outfield. Duncan can bounce between the corner outfield spots and first base, and he has a strong track record against left-handed pitching.
Even if LaPorta is good to go (and he’s said to be progressing well in rehab), the Tribe might carry an extra right-handed bat for first base and/or the outfield. Duncan, Jordan Brown and Andy Marte are all in that mix.
As for Kearns, he’ll compete to be the fourth outfielder, and it’s also not out of the realm of possibility that he’ll compete to be the regular in left. While a healthy LaPorta seems to be guaranteed a spot on the Opening Day roster, I’m not sure the same guarantee is there for Michael Brantley.
Kearns was once a breakout player in the making in Cincinnati, but his career never really took off, and he’s coming off two abysmal seasons in Washington. Manny Acta, obviously, is familiar with Kearns and recommended the Indians take a look at him.
Again, though, these are shots in the dark on the part of the Tribe. But at least it breaks up the monotony a little bit.