© 2013 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

3/14/2013 7:55 P.M. ET

McAllister labors, Bauer uneven in loss to Royals

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Indians insist that the race for the fifth spot in their rotation remains wide open with less than three weeks left until Opening Day. That means that pitching prospect Trevor Bauer is still very much in the mix.

Bauer worked the final four innings of a 5-3 Cactus League loss to the Royals on Thursday, giving up two runs in his time on the mound. Bauer -- acquired from the D-backs in a three-team, nine player trade in December -- has shown promise this spring, according to Tribe manager Terry Francona.

"He's been pretty good," Francona said. "I think we all understand that come Opening Day -- wherever he is -- it's still not the finished product. He just turned 22 and there's a pretty bright future. There's a lot to like."

Bauer has his eccentricities -- his first warm-up throw in the sixth inning sailed over catcher Omir Santos after the pitcher got a running start behind the mound -- but the young right-hander's ceiling is high. That is why Cleveland is taking a close look this spring at Bauer, who is up against Scott Kazmir, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Carlos Carrasco and Corey Kluber for the fifth spot on the staff.

Against the Royals, Bauer allowed two runs on five hits and finished with four strikeouts and no walks. In the eighth inning, he gave up three consecutive doubles, including one each to Adam Moore and Chris Getz that scored a run for the Royals.

Francona said Bauer still has plenty of room for development.

"Command," Francona said. "With most young pitchers, that's probably the thing that comes last. Consistency of command. He's got tremendous arm speed. He's got a really good changeup. His breaking ball, even out here in Arizona, he still gets the depth to it. It's just repeating his pitches."

Kansas City also fared well against Cleveland right-hander Zach McAllister, who was recently named the fourth starter on the staff. McAllister labored with his command, yielding three runs on five hits in 3 1/3 innings for the Tribe. The big righty struck out two, hit two batters and walked one. He was originally scheduled to log five innings.

In the second inning, Royals catcher Salvador Perez led off with a double and later scored on a base hit by Adam Moore. Kansas City tacked on two more runs against McAllister in the fourth inning, when Johnny Giavotella plated both Lorenzo Cain and Moore with a double down the right-field line.

"I think all day he was fighting getting in a rhythm," Francona said of McAllister. "He found it for periods of time, but I thought it was kind of a battle all day. Saying that, with runners on base, I thought he did a great job holding runners. That was something he set out to do over the winter coming into spring, controlling the running game."

Kansas City starter Jeremy Guthrie surpassed 75 pitches for the first time this spring and allowed two runs on five hits in four innings. The right-hander struck out two and walked two in the effort. Guthrie surrendered a solo home run to Cleveland's Lonnie Chisenhall in the second inning and later gave up a run-scoring double to Santos in the fourth.

Up next for Indians: Right-hander Brett Myers is scheduled to make his fourth Cactus League start of the spring on Friday, when the Tribe heads to Phoenix for a 4:05 p.m. ET tilt against the Brewers. Sidearmer Joe Smith and bullpen hopeful David Huff are also slated to pitch for Cleveland. Milwaukee will give the ball to lefty Chris Narveson. The game will be broadcast on 99.1 FM and across the Indians Radio Network.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.