Shaw returns to Cleveland (source); Bieber, Naylor back in action

March 23rd, 2022

GOODYEAR, Ariz. — The Guardians knew they needed some more experience in their bullpen, and now the team may have found its answer.

Sources confirmed to MLB.com on Wednesday afternoon that Cleveland re-signed reliever Bryan Shaw, as first reported by The Athletic. The team has not yet confirmed the deal, and the terms of the contract are not yet known.

No one in the Majors pitched in more games than Shaw last season. The veteran righty took the ball 81 times, owning a 3.49 ERA with 71 strikeouts and 38 walks in 77 1/3 frames. Not only was he a reliable arm to turn to for Cleveland, but he was also a veteran presence that was desperately needed. And now that the bullpen has even gotten younger since 2021, that leadership role is even more crucial.

Shaw, 34, is entering his 12th big league season and seventh with Cleveland. He left Northeast Ohio after the 2017 season, spent two years with Colorado and one with Seattle (mostly in the Minors) before returning to Cleveland last year. He’s led the Majors three times and the American League once more in appearances.

Bieber looking to speed things up on the mound

Even though we’re just over two weeks away from Opening Day, Guardians ace Shane Bieber just got his first taste of game action since last September in Wednesday’s 6-2 loss to the Dodgers at Camelback Ranch, though he didn’t see the results he was hoping to.

In 1 1/3 frames, Bieber gave up four runs on three hits — including two homers — with one walk and one strikeout. While it’s still early in his preseason progression, Bieber said he’s noticed that he’s felt slower on the mound over the last week.

“Physically, I felt good,” Bieber said. “Moving forward, I just need to stay a little bit more athletic, more aggressive and just throw the ball and trust my stuff, all my shapes and everything. I’m getting decent feedback. I just felt a little bit stuck in my delivery and kind of just feeling things out.”

Bieber had one round of live batting practice on the back fields at the Guardians’ Spring Training complex prior to facing hitters in a Cactus League game on Wednesday. To be able to make the necessary adjustments, Bieber is hoping to face more hitters prior to his next outing.

“He was even saying like, ‘Maybe on my side day I face hitters to let me be a little more competitive,'” Guardians manager Terry Francona said. “[Pitching coach] Carl [Willis] and I were like, ‘Hey, we can do whatever.’ Again, this is his first outing. Just want to make sure we remember that. But seeing him healthy is good.”

“Spring games, regular-season games, it’s never fun to give up runs or hard-hit baseballs,” Bieber said. “So it is what it is. It’s frustrating regardless, but got to take it and move forward and I feel like I know what my next step is, for sure.”

Naylor cleared to play

Guardians outfielder and first baseman Josh Naylor is itching to get back into the games (and has made it abundantly clear to his coaching staff), and he’s finally able to see the light at the end of the injury tunnel.

After rehabbing his lower right leg for the last 8 1/2 months following his gruesome injury last June that left him with fractures and ligament tears, Naylor has gotten clearance to play in a Minor League game on Thursday. He’s also gotten the green light to play in the outfield, but Guardians manager Terry Francona thinks the club will have him just DH in his first game action since last June.

“[Naylor], of all people, he only has one switch,” Francona said. “I said, ‘We want to try to do this in increments. With you, it’s not so easy.’

“Talking with [head athletic trainer James Quinlan], I don’t know if [Naylor is] going to play the outfield for like an inning or two and then DH or just DH. And he’ll take as many at-bats as he wants. He’s doing really well.”