03/23/2013 8:35 PM ET
Tribe fields young lineup as regulars rest
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
PEORIA, Ariz. -- The lineup that the Indians' assembled for Saturday's game against the Mariners looked nothing like the projected nine for Opening Day. The group Cleveland fielded at Peoria Stadium was instead a glimpse at the ballclub's future.
Shortstop Francisco Lindor and center fielder Tyler Naquin -- the Indians' first-round picks in the 2011 and '12 Drafts, respectively -- were in the starting lineup, along with second base prospect Jose Ramirez. Middle infield prospects Tony Wolters and Ronny Rodriguez came off the bench.
"That was really fun today," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "Our young kids, and they're really young, they looked like they belonged out there. That was really exciting."
Combined, those five farmhands went 7-for-17 at the plate in a 10-5 Cactus League victory for the Indians, accounting for three runs scored, three extra-base hits and four RBIs in the process. Lindor paced the pack of prospects by going 3-for-5 with an RBI triple and one run.
Francona has been impressed all spring by the 19-year-old Lindor, who has hit .316 (6-for-19) in nine Cactus League games.
"His future is really bright," Francona said. "And the kid Ramirez and Naquin. That was a fun day for the organization."
Many of Cleveland's regulars had appeared in three consecutive games, including Friday's night game against the D-backs. As a result, Saturday's tilt against Seattle was used as a rest day for most of the Major Leaguers. Utility man Mike Aviles and backup catcher Lou Marson were in the lineup, along with bench candidates Jason Giambi, Ezequiel Carrera and Cord Phelps.
"We're just trying to cover everything," Francona said of giving the regular players a day off. "Their bodies aren't used to playing a night game, and then a day game yet."
Kazmir pleased with outing despite runs allowed
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Scott Kazmir is hoping the Indians use more than the pitching line found in the box score to evaluate his latest performance. The lefty knows Cleveland is nearing a decision on its fifth starter and that his outing against the Mariners might have been his final say on the mound.
Over five inconsistent innings, Kazmir surrendered five runs in a 10-5 Cactus League victory for the Indians. He said he was concentrating on establishing his fastball and building up his pitch count -- an approach that contributed to a constant string of hits by Seattle.
"Besides what the scoreboard says, it went well. It really did," Kazmir said. "For the most part, my fastball, it felt really good early on. That was the game plan, to kind of stick with that and to build up a lot more strength since I was going that deep. I almost felt a little too good. I felt like I was overthrowing a little bit."
Indians manager Terry Francona indicated that he and general manager Chris Antonetti would sit down on Sunday to discuss the fifth starter situation. The decision is down to either Kazmir (a non-roster invitee) or right-hander Carlos Carrasco, who missed all of last season while recovering from Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow.
Francona said part of the decision will revolve around the suspension that is still linked to Carrasco. On July 29, 2011, Carrasco threw at Kansas City slugger Billy Butler's head, leading to a six-game suspension from Major League Baseball. Carrasco appealed the suspension, and later underwent season-ending surgery before serving his punishment.
"I think we'd like to get things in order as soon as we can," Francona said. "We'll all meet and we'll kind of get things figured out. ... I don't know the situation with Carrasco. We've got to get some clarity. Once we get that, then we can start making some decisions."
Kazmir, who has not pitched a full season in the big leagues since 2010, allowed 13 hits (six extra-base hits) and finished with five strikeouts and no walks in his 85-pitch effort against the Mariners. He surrendered a two-run home run to Raul Ibanez in the fifth inning and had a pair of doubles (Kelly Shoppach in the fourth inning and Mike Dowd in the fifth) that bounced off the batter's eye in center field.
In other ballparks, balls that strike the batter's eye are home runs. That is not the case in Peoria.
"That was awesome, yeah," Kazmir said. "I told Kelly, 'That's the longest double I've ever seen.'"
Kidding aside, Kazmir knows his performance was not particularly strong in terms of results, though he noted he threw fastballs in situations where he might feature offspeed pitches during the regular season. Overall this spring, the left-hander has surrendered nine runs (eight earned) on 29 hits with 23 strikeouts and three walks over 21 innings, which cover four Cactus League outings and a pair of Minor League starts.
"Coming to crunch time right now," Kazmir said. "There's a lot of decisions to be made and an outing could make the difference. That's why I've said from the beginning I'm just focused on what I need to accomplish and what I need to do to get better. Today was a step in the right direction."
Tribe holding big hopes for slugger Reynolds
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Mark Reynolds' son was in the stands at Goodyear Ballpark on Friday night when the Indians designated hitter launched a mammoth home run that arced over the top of the scoreboard that looms behind the left-field lawn seats.
After the game, 3-year-old Jacob Reynolds talked to his dad about the blast.
"He said, 'You hit it and nobody caught it,'" Reynolds said with a smile on Saturday morning. "He's figuring it out."
The Indians hope Reynolds can keep hitting baseballs were nobody can catch them this season.
That was the idea when Cleveland reeled Reynolds in with a one-year contract over the winter.
The Indians have lacked a true right-handed power hitter over the past few seasons and the team believes Reynolds can fill that void. Dating back to 2008, Reynolds ranks fourth in baseball in home runs by a right-handed hitter (164). Only Albert Pujols (193), Miguel Cabrera (183) and Ryan Braun (168) have launched more homers in that span.
This spring, Reynolds has hit .350 (14-for-40) with three homers and seven RBIs in 15 Cactus League games.
"I think he's exactly what we expected," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "He's a guy that can play first, DH, and we can run him over to third. The hope is that there's production there, because there's going to be strikeouts. But I don't think you try to mess with changing his [style]."
Reynolds averaged 208 strikeouts per year from 2008-11, but he also posted an average of 35 home runs and 92 RBIs in that same four-year stretch. He set the single-season strikeout record with 223 in 2009, but that season he also hit .260 with 44 home runs and 102 RBIs for the D-backs.
He's enjoyed a few tape-measure moonshots along the way.
"I run into one every now and then," Reynolds said with a smirk.
Reynolds shrugged off Friday night's blast against the D-backs.
"I'm just glad my kid was in the stands to see it," he said.
Quote to note
"It's going to be fun one we get everyone in the lineup at the same time and get clicking on all cylinders, and get into some meaningful spots in games. We'll have guys stealing bases, and hitting-and-running, doing the little things like taking an extra base with our speed. Getting to those games where we can start utilizing everything we have in this clubhouse is going to be fun."
• Indians All-Star closer Chris Perez, who is working his way back from a right shoulder strain, logged one inning in a Minor League game on Saturday. Perez threw 30 pitches, including 19 strikes, and allowed one run on two hits with one walk and one strikeout.
"Great to get out there again," Perez wrote on his @ChrisPerez54 Twitter page. "If the season started next week, I'd be ready. What's that? It does start next week? #Ready #BullpenMafia."
• Francona said catcher Carlos Santana will use most of the next week catching up with the team's many signs, which are modified for the regular season. Santana rejoined Cleveland on Thursday after helping the Dominican Republic win the World Baseball Classic.
• Francona indicated that Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, who has missed the past four games due to a tender right elbow, should be back in the lineup on Sunday. Kipnis said earlier this week that the injury was not serious and he could play through it in the regular season.
• Cleveland posts a daily pitching leaderboard in its clubhouse for first-pitch strikes and 1-1 strikes. In the 1-1 strike category, right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez led the team's starting pitchers with a strike rate of 83 percent (20-for-24).
• Indians right fielder Matt Carson exited Saturday's game in the fifth inning after falling at the warning track while trying to make a catch on Kyle Seager's triple for Seattle. Carson suffered a forehead laceration and a neck strain and is considered day to day.