GOODYEAR, Ariz. — Nick Johnson has a new locker in the Indians’ spring training clubhouse. A spot on the big league roster is still in question.
Johnson, who signed a one-year minor league contract ($750,000) with the Indians on March 7, arrived at camp for the first time Friday. He has been working out for five months in Arizona, but still isn’t close to returning to the field after undergoing his fourth surgery on a problematic right wrist.
“There’s no timetable really,” said Johnson, who was limited to 24 games with the Yankees in 2010. “When it feels good, start swinging.”
“Hopefully, at some point in April, he’ll be able to start game activities,” said general manager Chris Antonetti.
Johnson’s salary is guaranteed this year and his contract with Cleveland includes an automatic option for 2012 should he make the Indians roster at any point this season. He is expected to remain in Goodyear for extended spring training and would most likely need to prove himself at Triple-A Columbus before joining the Indians.
His latest surgery involved removing a painful ligament from his wrist. He had the stitches taken out Friday.
“I should be good to go,” said Johnson, who owns a career .270 batting average and .401 on-base percentage in 10 big league seasons. “I’m just looking forward to being where I can work and prepare and swing without pain.”
Johnson has been reunited with manager Manny Acta, whom he played for in Washington from 2008-09.
“I’m happy to be here,” he said. “I know it’s going to take some time to feel better. I just want to get back as soon as possible.”
The Indians agreed to terms on one-year contracts with their remaining three unsigned players — RHP Jeanmar Gomez, RHP Josh Tomlin and catcher Carlos Santana.
All the members of Cleveland’s 40-man roster are under contract for the 2011 season.
The Indians made their first round of cuts, trimming eight players off their spring training roster.
Cleveland optioned pitchers Corey Kluber and Hector Rondon and infielder Jared Goedert to Triple-A Columbus, while optioning pitchers Kelvin De La Cruz and Nick Hagadone to Double-A Akron.
Pitchers Drew Pomeranz and Bryce Stowell and catcher Chun Chen were re-assigned to minor league camp.
Pomeranz, the Indians’ first-round draft choice (fifth overall) last year, was impressive in two exhibition outings. He didn’t allow a run or hit and struck out five in three innings.
Grady Sizemore took another step to returning to the field, participating in live batting practice against right-hander Anthony Reyes.
“He’s been looking really good swinging the bat,” Acta said. “Anthony was obviously throwing some good stuff up there. It’s just his running game that we’re waiting on. He’s looked so good swinging the bat.”
Sizemore is expected to begin running the bases Sunday, but it still appears unlikely that he will be ready to open the season with the Indians.
“There’s nothing really new on Grady,” Antonetti said. “I think the timetable remains the same. We’re optimistic that he’ll get into games at some point before camp ends and we’ll see how he progresses from there.”
After watching Matt LaPorta and his new haircut launch four consecutive homers during batting practice, Acta quipped, “You might be the other way around about Samson.”
LaPorta is batting just .138 (4-for-29) with one homer in 10 games, but he is one off the team lead with six RBIs.
The Indians are without a win in their last seven exhibition games, losing five and tying twice. … Indians Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry was in attendance, signing autographs for fans prior to the game. … Today, 4:05 vs. Angels at Goodyear Ballpark (STO, WTAM 1100-AM). Fausto Carmona (2-1, 7.88 ERA) vs. RHP Dan Haren (0-1, 5.40).
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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