Kluber easing into Spring Training workload

Indians ace working with Callaway on program for weeks ahead

February 16th, 2017

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- There were sleepless nights for ace this past winter. In the months following the Indians' loss in the World Series, the right-hander would often be out of bed when the moon was up, though it was not the team's postseason run that was on his mind.

The Klubers welcomed a son, Camden, into their family in late November, providing a happy distraction in what was an abbreviated offseason for the pitcher. Kluber did not have much time to sit back and stew over his team coming up just short in the Fall Classic against the Cubs. Instead, he was able to turn his attention to his increasingly busy home, which already included two young daughters.

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"That kind of took up all our time," Kluber said with a smile. "He keeps you busy, that's for sure. That was a distraction from all that stuff. You learn to manage your time a little bit differently with three."

None of this is to say the loss to the Cubs in Game 7 did not sting for Kluber, who started that game, as well as Games 1 and 4 in the franchise's first World Series since 1997. There was a sting and an exhaustion that existed for the first couple offseason weeks for Kluber, but his family situation, and the truncated winter training program, allowed him to quickly shift his attention to the future.

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Kluber's normal winter routine was pushed back by a couple weeks and now, following a campaign that saw him log 249 1/3 innings between the regular season and playoffs, he will be eased into his spring workload. With the World Baseball Classic extending Spring Training some this year, Kluber is still hopeful that he can get a typical preseason's worth of innings, even if the early weeks include more simulated sessions.

Pitching coach Mickey Callaway has worked closely with Kluber on developing a program for the weeks ahead.

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"We'll do sim games, or a little two-day delay on bullpens, a little more time in-between," Callaway said. "We thought about it a lot. The goal is to make sure they're ready for the season, but we also want to be smart and know that, man, they threw some stressful innings last year. So, we tried to balance that, talked throughout the offseason, came up with a plan."

Last season, Kluber went 18-9 with a 3.14 ERA and 227 strikeouts in 32 starts, earning a spot on the American League All-Star team for the first time and finishing third in voting for the AL Cy Young Award. In the playoffs, he set a franchise record for starts (six) in a single postseason, and tied records for strikeouts (35) and wins (four). Overall, Kluber worked 34 1/3 innings, including 16 between his three World Series starts.

"Special players do special things," manager Terry Francona said. "We knew we were reaching a little bit. That's a lot to ask. We had guys going down, though, and I thought that was our best chance to win. I think he did, too. It's still a lot to ask. But, I appreciated it."

Kluber is hoping he and his teammates can learn from the postseason experience.

"It was definitely tough," Kluber said. "I was pretty exhausted for a week, two weeks, afterwards. Mentally, physically, all that stuff. Once I started working out again, that's when you have something new to look forward to. That was kind of like the reset, so to speak. I guess now is when you can take a step back and look at it.

"Hopefully, we gained a lot of experience from it, and all the stuff you wish you didn't have to say. I think in the long run it will be a good experience for us to build on."