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Bauer pleased with slider, fans 8 Rangers

Righty incorporating new breaking pitch this spring; Brantley, Salazar making progress; Almonte optioned to Triple-A
MLB.com @MLBastian

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Trevor Bauer spent his entire offseason developing a new slider, and he has continued to hone the pitch this spring. In his latest start, the Indians right-hander got to see how it worked in conjunction with the other offerings in his arsenal.

"I felt good," Bauer said after Monday's 4-2 win over the Rangers at Goodyear Ballpark. "It's the first time all spring I've thrown my full complement of pitches, so I was really encouraged by the slider and the curveball playing together, and how effective those were when paired together."

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GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Trevor Bauer spent his entire offseason developing a new slider, and he has continued to hone the pitch this spring. In his latest start, the Indians right-hander got to see how it worked in conjunction with the other offerings in his arsenal.

"I felt good," Bauer said after Monday's 4-2 win over the Rangers at Goodyear Ballpark. "It's the first time all spring I've thrown my full complement of pitches, so I was really encouraged by the slider and the curveball playing together, and how effective those were when paired together."

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:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Over five innings, Bauer allowed two runs on five hits, including a home run to Luis Marte in the fifth. The right-hander ended with eight strikeouts against one walk, giving him 18 strikeouts and four walks in 13 1/3 innings in his four Cactus League outings.

To this point, Bauer has been pleased by the early returns of his slider, which was designed to be similar to the breaking ball featured by Indians ace Corey Kluber.

"By the time I get to the season, I will have 60 innings under my belt with it," Bauer said. "So, that's like a full college season for some people, or high school season or whatever. So, yeah, I have plenty of time, plenty of experience throwing it. A lot of those innings -- probably 40 to 50 of them -- are going to be throwing nothing but sliders as my breaking pitch. So, I have a generally idea of how I want to use it and it's been good."

Video: TEX@CLE: Francona on Bauer's start against Rangers

Injury updates
• Left fielder Michael Brantley (right ankle surgery in October) felt fine on Monday after introducing baserunning to his running rehab program on Sunday. Brantley was slated to go through outfield drills during Monday's workout. Said manager Terry Francona: "He's really doing well. He's excited."

• Right-hander Danny Salazar (right shoulder inflammation) continues to work through a long-toss program with the goal of getting on a mound soon. Said Francona: "He is actually, I think, getting a little bit to the point where he's turning a pretty good corner."

Camp battles
The Indians went with a batting order full of regulars for Monday's game against the Rangers. Veteran Rajai Davis was the lone player in the lineup who is competing for a roster spot this spring. The fleet-footed outfielder hit ninth and got the nod in left field, going 1-for-2 in the batter's box. Davis, who is in camp as a non-roster invitee, has hit .280 in 10 Cactus League games so far.

Worth noting
• Outfielder Abraham Almonte, who has played in 136 games for the Indians over the past two seasons, was among the players optioned to Triple-A Columbus on Monday. Almonte -- a switch-hitter who can play all three outfield spots -- avoided arbitration with a one-year contract worth $825,000 over the winter and was in competition for an Opening Day job this spring.

"We told him that he came in a little heavy," Francona said. "He's lost weight while he's been here, but he was competing. We just told him, we said, 'At this point in time, you're not a candidate to make the team, so we're going to send you over to the other side.' He's going to work on all three outfield positions. We kind of told him, when he first got here he did such a good job with center field, and then he's not been as reliable in the outfield. So, we kind of told him that."

• Besides Almonte, the Indians also optioned catching prospect Francisco Mejia, right-hander Julian Merryweather, lefty Shawn Morimando and righty Adam Plutko to Triple-A. Cleveland reassigned first baseman Bobby Bradley, righty Louis Head, righty Josh Martin and lefty Adam Wilk to Minor League camp.

More: Mejia to get outfield experience in Minors | Bradley impresses in spring stint

• Right-hander Josh Tomlin is tentatively scheduled to pitch in a Minor League game on Wednesday. Lefty Andrew Miller, and a handful of other big league pitchers, may also participate in Minor League action at the team's complex on Wednesday.

Up next
Following a team off-day on Tuesday, Kluber is scheduled to take the mound for his fourth Cactus League start in a 4:05 p.m. ET game against the Angels on Wednesday at Goodyear Ballpark. Kluber has 15 strikeouts against two walks and a 3.12 ERA in 8 2/3 innings so far this spring. Carlos Torres, Matt Belisle, Tyler Olson and Zach McAllister are also penciled in to pitch for the Tribe on Wednesday. Tune in live on MLB.TV.

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.

Cleveland Indians, Abraham Almonte, Trevor Bauer, Michael Brantley, Rajai Davis, Danny Salazar