02/24/2013 7:12 PM ET
Diaz turning heads early at Tribe camp
By Tyler Emerick / MLB.com
GOODYEAR, Ariz -- In Major League camp to soak up as much experience as possible before beginning his Minor League season, Indians shortstop prospect Juan Diaz has manager Terry Francona impressed after the club's first two games.
Diaz has three doubles in his first four at-bats, scored twice and drove a run in. His most noteworthy play, however, came Saturday when the 24-year-old finished off a relay by throwing out a runner at the plate.
"I like the way we executed that, I'd rather see that than him airmail one even if we got the out; he had the right idea there," Francona said. "He kept the ball down but still kept his strong arm in play."
Standing 6-foot-4 and weighing around 200 pounds, Diaz is built more like a corner infielder than a shortstop, but the Indians are pleased with what he has shown them defensively.
"Everybody that has seen him play, certainly more than me, has said he can more than handle himself at shortstop," Francona said. "His height doesn't seem to get in the way for him. He's just a big tall guy and has a cannon for an arm."
Dice-K, Bauer shine in Tribe debuts
GOODYEAR, Ariz -- Two of Cleveland's most high-profile acquisitions of the offseason made their Indians debuts on Sunday at separate venues across the Phoenix area.
In Goodyear against the Reds, Daisuke Matsuzaka tossed two hitless innings while walking one and hitting a batter in a 22-pitch outing during a 3-0 win. Meanwhile, about 20 minutes away in Maryvale vs. the Brewers, Trevor Bauer completed two scoreless frames despite allowing two hits in the Tribe's 7-4 victory.
"Today is a fun day," said Indians manager Terry Francona, who traveled with the team that played Milwaukee. "I wish I could be at both places."
The Indians signed Matsuzaka to a Minor League contract early this month to compete with Bauer, along with a handful of other arms, for the fifth spot in the rotation.
The Japanese right-hander, who underwent Tommy John surgery in June 2011 and finished with an 8.28 ERA over 11 outings last year with the Red Sox, was pleased with his first game experience in his new uniform Sunday despite the windy conditions he had to deal with.
"The winds were really strong today, so it wasn't the best of conditions but it's something that's bound to happen during the season, so I just tried to pitch my best and see what would work," said Matsuzaka through a translator.
The 32-year-old hit the first batter he faced, but on his next pitch he induced a ground-ball double play. Among the Reds batters he retired were Billy Hamilton, Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce.
"After he hit the first batter, he regained his command right away," said Indians bench coach Sandy Alomar Jr., acting as manager in Goodyear. "He pitched very well from the stretch and he was able to throw some good breaking balls when he needed to."
Matsuzaka's fastball topped out around 88-89 mph, but the righty isn't concerned about velocity this early into the spring.
"It's right where I expected my fastball to be at this stage," he said. "The more I throw, the deeper I go into Spring Training, I'm sure my velocity will get there. I just have to make sure I can stay healthy throughout the whole season."
The Indians aren't sure what they will get out of Matsuzaka this year, but if anyone knows what he is capable of when he's right, it's his old manager from Boston.
"Stuff across the board was solid, he had the ability like no other pitcher to wiggle out of jams," Francona said. "He'd have the bases loaded and no outs and we'd be sitting there on the edge of our seats, but he wasn't. He'd just get out of it. He had everything."
• There was a humorous new addition to Cleveland's clubhouse bulletin board on Sunday morning. Indians manager Terry Francona hung up a picture of himself wearing an oversized hat and smiling ear to ear with "I demand respect" written below.
"If GQ doesn't come calling now, it never well," Francona said.
The skipper took the snapshot on team photo day when he accidentally grabbed a fitted hat a few sizes too large.
"We try to take what we're doing serious, but not take ourselves serious," Francona said. "I think the picture is an example of that."
• Still recovering from an oblique injury, Indians reliever Joe Smith threw a bullpen session Saturday and came out of it feeling good.
The 28-year-old said the earliest he will make his Cactus League debut will be a week from Tuesday. Until then, Smith plans to throw off the mound three more times, either in the bullpen or live batting practice.
• For the first time since 2011, Indians right-hander Carlos Carrasco was back on the mound Sunday in a game against Major Leaguers. The 25-year-old is coming off a lengthy rehabilitation process from Tommy John surgery.
"He hasn't pitched in this environment in quite some time, but there are no limitations for him whatsoever," Francona said. "He just has to settle in and get his legs under him, then he'll start competing.
Carrasco is competing for one of the backend jobs in the Indians' starting rotation.
Tyler Emerick is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.