Earlier today, the Indians granted Ben Francisco his unconditional release and added Rich Hill to the 40-man roster, meaning Hill is likely to break camp as a member of the Tribe's bullpen in the mind of MLB.com's Jordan Bastian. Here's some more on the Indians and other Central division teams...
- Indians non-roster invitee Scott Kazmir feels that he's pitched well enough to earn the team's fifth starter role, according to Cleveland.com's Glenn Moore (link includes video interview with Kazmir). The 29-year-old Kazmir has pitched in just one game since 2010 but told reporters that each time he was released allowed him to step back and examine what he needed to improve on to get back to his previous levels. Bastian tweets that between the Cactus League and "B" games, Kazmir has fired 11 scoreless innings with a 13-to-2 K/BB ratio.
- J.J. Stankevitz of CSNChicago.com writes that the trade to the White Sox was a turning point in the career of Edwin Jackson, who benefited from pitching coach Don Cooper's tutelage. Jackson tells Stankevitz that he isn't fazed by the fact that the Cubs will be his seventh team since 2008. He's likely to keep that uniform for awhile, having signed a four-year, $52MM contract this offseason.
- The money to be saved by delaying Aaron Hicks' service time is the "only justifiable reason" to keep him from opening the season as the Twins' center fielder in the eyes of 1500 ESPN's Phil Mackey. In a separate piece, Mackey notes that Darin Mastroianni is still pushing for the job, and manager Ron Gardenhire says no decision has been reached. Our own Ben Nicholson-Smith examined the service time considerations for Hicks and other members of Baseball America's Top 100 Prospects list late last month.