Vinnie Pestano may have spent last fall as an outsider looking in, but he will get a chance at redemption this summer as the right-handed reliever has officially made the Cleveland Indians’ 25-man roster. Pestano was told this weekend that he will be one of the arms in the Tribe’s bullpen on Opening Day—a spot that was all but certain heading into Spring Training.
Last season, the fan favorite was on the disabled list with arm issues and spent a good portion of the season in Columbus with the team’s Triple-A affiliate. When the Indians won 10 straight games and made the postseason, he was not on the team’s roster. Coming off what was easily the worst year in his career, Pestano has a 1.50 ERA in six appearances this spring. (He’s allowed just one run in six innings with five strikeouts and two walks, holding opposing hitters to a .100 average.)
“I worked hard in the offseason and I’ve work hard this spring to get back to get back on the right track to where I was,” Pestano said to the local media. “But there is still work to be done. Just because I’m on the Opening Day roster doesn’t mean you’re going to be there down the stretch. I found that out last year.”
It is assumed that Cody Allen will receive eighth inning duties to start the season, a role once held by Pestano. Losing Joe Smith via free agency, Pestano’s resurgence will be integral in the team’s late-inning success.
Also given a spot on the team’s Opening Day roster is utility man Elliot Johnson. Johnson, who came to camp on a minor-league deal, is hitting .350 (14-for-40) this spring. He’s hit two doubles, two triples, two homers and eight RBI, flashing considerable power that may have him admitted to the Goon Squad if he can show it’s sustainable. Indians manager Terry Francona has used him all over the infield and outfield, providing more flexibility in the way of Ryan Raburn and Mike Aviles in 2013.
Northeast Ohio Media Group’s Paul Hoynes reports that Tribe GM Chris Antonetti and manager Terry Francona also talked to several other players, telling them where they stood and that a final decision on their status with the big league club had not been made. Outfielder Nyjer Morgan and third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall were reportedly among them.
The Tribe starts their season in Oakland one week from Monday.