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Signed C Einar Diaz to a minor-league contract; Invited him to Spring Training

Before someone else says it, I will...

What, Eddie Taubensee wasn't available? What about Joel Skinner? I hear he can still catch.

Seriously, though, Diaz is all right for what the Indians need him for; a third catcher and a bit of an insurance policy. I don't think there's a market for Josh Bard any longer, so I'd think Einar will be Buffalo's starting catcher in 2006.

Invited OF Ben Francisco, 2B/3B Jake Gautreau, C Javi Herrera, IF Joe Inglett, 1B/OF Ryan Mulhern, LHP Tony Sipp, and LHP Jeremy Sowers to Spring Training

The vast majority of these guys are probably ticketed to Buffalo or Akron, but Sowers has an outside shot of cracking the rotation. If the Indians don't sign another outfielder, Francisco might make the club as the fourth outfielder.

UPDATE: Regarding the Einar Diaz signing, it appears that the Indians have the right to option Josh Bard to the minor leagues and keep him there for any and all of the 2006 season. Players with three years of major league service time cannot be sent to the minors without their consent ? but Bard is 39 days short of that threshold. It also appears that he has an option year left, having only been "optioned" to the minors in two seasons, 2003 and 2004. He was added to the 40-man roster in 2002 and finished the season in Cleveland, and he spent the whole 2005 season in Cleveland, thus not using an option in either season. That means that if Cleveland is willing to use up three 40-man roster spots on catchers ? not an unusual thing to do anyway ? they can easily choose to use Diaz or Laker as the big-league backup while stashing Bard at Buffalo for depth and/or trade bait ? and also stopping his service clock dead, but also perhaps getting him more regular at-bats. It also would seem to underscore the team's commitment to developing Ryan Garko into a full-time first baseman. [Jay]