GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Mike Clevinger has had a slower-paced Spring Training this season than in years past, but it didn’t take long for his Cactus League debut to turn full speed.
In Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over the Dodgers at Camelback Ranch, Clevinger worked a hitless first frame, but he had quite the scare in the second inning when Cody Bellinger laced a line drive back to the mound that hit Clevinger's glove hand. The Indians’ training staff came out to examine him on the mound, and after a few minutes, the right-hander remained in the game.
“I’ll just put a little ice on it,” Clevinger said. “It’ll be OK.”
Clevinger said that he will need to add a little more treatment to his daily routine, but his pitching schedule should not be impacted. Although there are no exit-velocity readings at Camelback Ranch, Clevinger had a good idea of the speed that the ball left Bellinger’s bat.
“Oh, I can tell you it was over 100 [mph],” Clevinger said.
The Indians kept Clevinger in simulated games at their facility in Goodyear until he reached 50 pitches to control the intensity of his first few outings. Once he hit that mark, he was penciled in for his first start of the spring Wednesday night. Easing into Spring Training was not something Clevinger was used to, as this is the first year he hasn’t had to pitch his way into the rotation.
“You put your energy into different places,” Clevinger said. “So it’s allowed me more time to either watch video or work on whether it was hip mobility or shoulder mobility, working out, things like that. So you find your different spots to put your time in.”
Aside from the comebacker, Clevinger looked sharp in his first outing, allowing one hit and one walk with three strikeouts.
“Oh my goodness, he’s strong,” said Indians manager Terry Francona. “You could tell how hard he’s worked because he’s not overthrowing. He’s just reaching back and he feels good about himself, as he should.”
Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco have yet to make their first appearances this spring, but Shane Bieber, Trevor Bauer and now Clevinger have all looked stellar in their first few games.
“It’s kind of scary,” Clevinger said of the Indians’ rotation. “Just being completely literal, I mean there’s nobody out there that can sit and look at our rotation, especially with the way Bieber is throwing the ball this spring, I think this is the most dangerous rotation in baseball. So it should be a fun year.”
Mercado goes deep
In the top of the seventh inning, Oscar Mercado launched his second homer of the spring into the left-field corner. As he rounded third, he pointed to his teammates in celebration and received a warm welcome when the returned to the dugout.
“I’m telling you, we enjoy watching our guys, but we love … you see a kid come in and he’s happy he’s getting in and he’s taking advantage of it,” Francona said. “He’s making a really good impression.”
• Bradley Zimmer is continuing to progress and is expected to start throwing to bases from the outfield this weekend, according to Francona.
“Part of it is the volume and recovery time now is still important,” Francona said. “It’s not that he can’t do things, it’s just he still needs his recovery time. And then that will continue to lessen as he gets further along.”
• Danny Salazar is throwing from up to 120 feet and told Francona that Tuesday was the best he’s felt all spring.
“As long as he feels good about where he is, it doesn’t matter what I think,” Francona said. “Every person knows their body, and if he started to feel good, that makes us all feel good.”
The Indians will travel to Scottsdale to play the D-backs at 3:10 p.m. ET at Salt River Fields on Thursday. Bauer will make his third start of the spring for Cleveland, and righty Zack Greinke will take the mound for Arizona.