BY JUSTIN LADA
INDIANS BEAT WRITER
With an important off-season ahead of them, the Indians got right to work on their contract options and a new coaching staff.
The Indians decided to pay $2.5 million to Travis Hafner to buy him out of his contract option, which would have cost them $13 million, had they picked it up.
The 35 year old free agent designated hitter has played 429 games since 2008 out of a possible 810. Between 2004 to 2007, ‘Pronk’ hit 127 home runs. Since 2008, he’s hit 59 and been hampered with injuries. There’s some thought that the Indians may offer him a small contract to come back. But that’s pure speculation at this point. Hafner was given a standing ovation in his last at bat at Progressive field on October 3rd vs. the White Sox. He said he has enjoyed his time here and the fans gave him an experience he’ll never forget.
Joining him looking for a new team is Roberto Hernandez. After the identity crisis Hernandez went through, he pitched in three games, and not well, before rolling his ankle in a start and missed the rest of the year. The Indians could have voided his contract, but chose to re-negotiate and decided it was best to part ways.
The Indians picked up Ubaldo Jimenez’s option, despite leading the league in wild pitches, with 16. He threw 176 innings and the Indians are hoping a new pitching staff can help him rediscover his 2010 form.
Coaching staff finalized
Terry Francona finalized his coaching staff on Wednesday, first of all, keeping Sandy Alomar on as bench coach.
Brad Mills, Francona’s bench coach in Philadelphia and Boston, and the manager of the Houston Astros last year, will coach 3rd base. Mills is also the father of Indians 2007 1st round pick, Beau Mills, who was traded to Cincinnati this past year.
Kevin Cash, a former catcher for Francona in Boston, will be the bullpen coach. He retired in 2010 and was a Blue Jays scout in 2012.
Francona named Ty Van Burkleo as the hitting coach, who was the interim hitting coach for Houston and their former minor league hitting coordinator. He was previously Don Wakamatsu’s bench coach in Seattle in 2009 and 2010. He played professionally 5 years between Japan and the Colorado Rockies and California Angles.
Mickey Callaway was named the pitching coach. Callaway was the Lake County Captains pitching coach in 2010 when the club won the Midwest League championship in their first year in the league. He was the pitching coach for the Kinston Indians in 2011 and became the minor league pitching coordinator last year, becoming a fast riser in the organization. He won a World Series with the 2002 Anaheim Angles and later retired in 2009.