Indians sign Ben Francisco to minor-league deal

Rob Grabowski-US PRESSWIRE

Cleveland has reunited with their former fifth-round draft pick and given him an invite to big-league camp.

The Cleveland Indians have signed outfielder Ben Francisco to a minor-league contract with an invitation to major-league spring training, the team has announced.

After four seasons away with four different clubs, the 31-year-old Francisco is returning to where it all began. A fifth-round draft pick by the Tribe in the 2002 draft, Francisco got his first cup of coffee with Cleveland in 2007 and took on the fourth outfielder role the next two years, hitting .261/.332/.437 with 28 home runs.

The Indians then traded Francisco to the Philadelphia Phillies as part of the lopsided Cliff Lee deal in the summer of 2009. The right-handed outfielder continued his role as fourth outfielder in Philly the next two-plus years, but without the success he had in Cleveland.

Francisco jumped around to three different clubs in 2012 -- he was traded twice more -- spending time with the Toronto Blue Jays, Houston Astros, and Tampa Bay Rays. He hit a career-worst .240/.285/.385 with four home runs in 82 games on the year.

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