3/8/2014 4:50 P.M. ET
Kluber walks softly, but Francona notices fire
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Indians pitcher Corey Kluber does not look for attention. The right-hander has a quiet punch-in, punch-out mentality that fits well in a blue-collar town like Cleveland.
Indians manager Terry Francona said not to let Kluber's personality fool you.
"As you get to know him," Francona said, "there's a fire there. It's just not very loud."
During Friday's 7-2 win over the Cubs, Kluber put that competitive fire on display in a three-inning performance for the Indians. The righty has been concentrating this spring on pitching ahead in the count and throwing strikes with all his pitches, and his outing against Chicago served as a perfect summation of that approach.
Kluber pounded the strike zone and piled up five strikeouts with no walks, giving him six strikeouts against no walks in six Cactus League innings this spring.
"I felt good," Kluber said. "There were a few instances where I did fall behind guys, but when I was out there, it was, 'Get back in the zone. Give them a chance to hit it.' Those few times when I did fall behind guys, I still threw strikes and got soft contact. It kind of shows yourself right there, even when you're behind, you don't have to make that perfect pitch. Just execute a good one."
That style helped the 27-year-old Kluber go 11-5 with a 3.85 ERA in 147 1/3 innings last season for the Indians, who plan on opening the year with him in the rotation. Justin Masterson is in line to once again begin the season as Cleveland's No. 1 starter, and Kluber could be right behind him in the second slot.
"You watch him pitch," Francona said. "The ball's coming out the same or better with seemingly less effort. I know it's not that easy, but he's not falling all over the mound. He's staying in his delivery. One is his confidence. Two is his work ethic. I think he's gotten stronger. I keep saying it, because I feel that way, you can win with guys like Klubes. He just doesn't have a big track record yet. He will."
Raburn rests sore knee after crashing into wall
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- After Ryan Raburn crashed hard into the right-field wall at Cubs Park on Friday afternoon, Cleveland's first concern was whether the outfielder had suffered a head injury. Raburn's lip was bleeding, and his left knee and right hand were sore, but his head was fine.
"I was like, 'There ain't nothing up there to hurt,'" Raburn joked on Saturday.
One day after his second-inning meeting with the wall, Raburn was still experiencing some discomfort in his knee. Indians manager Terry Francona planned on keeping the utility man out of Saturday's lineup anyway, but Raburn will likely sit out on Sunday as well.
For now, Raburn is considered day to day with a bruised left knee, which he had wrapped on Saturday morning.
"He's got a contusion," Francona said. "He's OK. Structurally, he's fine. He just whacked it."
On a home run off the bat of Chicago's Kris Bryant, the 32-year-old Raburn said he got turned around as he approached the wall. Back at the Tribe's spring complex, Raburn's locker neighbor is outfielder Matt Carson, who has the nickname "Crash" due to a handful of highlight-reel encounters with walls around the game.
"I'm never making fun of that guy again," Raburn said with a smile. "I don't have much room to talk now."
Francona said he wants to get Raburn back in the lineup as soon as possible, because the utility man is scheduled to leave Arizona some time next week to be with his wife for the birth of their child.
Raburn has hit .600 (6-for-10) with two doubles and two home runs this spring after hitting at a .272 clip with 16 home runs and 55 RBIs in 86 games for Cleveland last season. Raburn said that running into walls is nothing new for him, and he has no plans of changing his aggressive style of play.
"I think I took the brunt of it," Raburn said with a laugh. "But I think I put a little hurtin' on it, too, hopefully. Maybe it will move out of the way the next time."
Pestano not paying attention to early radar readings
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Vinnie Pestano does not know how hard he is throwing right now, and the Indians reliever has no plans of checking any radar readings. So far this spring, he has seen some bad swings and frustrated body language from hitters, and that is enough for him.
Pestano is confident that the velocity will pick up as the regular season nears.
"It could be 78 mph, as long as the ball's doing what I want it to do," Pestano said on Saturday morning. "The swings that I'm seeing are comparable to the ones that I used to get. ... I'm seeing guys behind fastballs. Even if it's still the second week of games, it's still good to see. There's still more work to be done."
Pestano, 29, is fighting for a spot in the bullpen this spring after losing his job as Cleveland's primary setup man last season. In 37 appearances last year, the right-hander posted a career-high 4.08 ERA and ended with 37 strikeouts and 21 walks in 35 1/3 innings. Pestano also dealt with right elbow issues early in the season after taking part in the World Baseball Classic.
According to fangraphs.com, Pestano averaged 91.2 mph with his fastball last season. That was down from 91.8 mph in 2012 and 92.7 in 2011, and manager Terry Francona has indicated that the pitcher's velocity has been lower than his usual speed early on this spring.
"From talking to everybody from before I was here," Francona said, "it's actually right where it's been prior to the WBC. Last year, he ramped up really quick. That's the challenge sometimes of a guy coming back like Vinnie. Until he's throwing 93, everybody's going to say, 'Where is it?' When, in reality, this is how he's always built up.
"Now, again, by the end of March you'll be looking for more. But this is how he's looked in the past."
Francona added that it can be a good thing that Pestano is not monitoring the radar readings right now.
"That's OK," said the manager. "We don't want him trying to generate more. That doesn't work. He's got the late movement we're talking about and, over the normal progression of the spring, that's what you should see."
Quote to note
"Not that he has to open eyes [here], but maybe around the league. I think we know what we have, and we're thrilled. I just think when he gets a full year under his belt, you're going to see Klubes be one of the better right-handers in the league."
-- Francona, on Kluber
• A few Indians players have been spotted wearing "K Cancer" shirts lately. Closer John Axford got them from his former teammate, Cardinals reliever Jason Motte, whose foundation has teamed up with Strike Out Cancer to help raise awareness and help fund cancer research. Axford is awaiting a second box of shirts to pass out to more players.
"Somehow in the offseason, it came to, 'Hey, would you want to do this? We could do it in Indians colors,'" Axford said. "Last year, it was one [team] -- the Cardinals. Now, they have 23 teams all with individual players that represent a certain cancer society or other groups. It's something they contribute to personally and on the cancer research end."
• Indians right-hander Danny Salazar, who threw 21 pitches in an intrasquad "B" game on Friday, is scheduled to start and log two innings against the Angels in Monday's Cactus League game at Goodyear Ballpark. Salazar was originally listed to pitch on Tuesday, but Cleveland decided to move his outing up by one day. Trevor Bauer is scheduled to throw three innings after Salazar.
• With 32 pitchers still in camp and individual innings beginning to rise for the starters, Cleveland continues to look for ways to spread out the work. To help divide the innings, the Indians have added a "B" game against the White Sox at 1 p.m. ET on Tuesday at the Tribe's spring complex. Aaron Harang (three innings), Tyler Cloyd (two), Nick Hagadone (two), Mike Zagurski (one) and J.C. Ramirez (one) are slated to pitch.