GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- As Corey Kluber took the mound at the Indians' complex Friday morning, a group of pitching prospects grabbed a seat at a picnic table behind the backstop. A little bit earlier, they stood next to the bullpens, watching Cleveland's ace warm up.For the next several minutes, Kluber
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- As Corey Kluber took the mound at the Indians' complex Friday morning, a group of pitching prospects grabbed a seat at a picnic table behind the backstop. A little bit earlier, they stood next to the bullpens, watching Cleveland's ace warm up.
For the next several minutes, Kluber put on a clinic for the young pitchers, mixing in his full repertoire of pitches to both sides of the plate with Roberto Perez doing the catching. Kluber's two-inning simulated game marked his final tune-up for his Cactus League debut.
The Indians' ace remembers being one of those Minor Leaguers at the table.
"Yeah," Kluber said with a smile. "First of all, it's fun to watch guys that are at a level that you're trying to get to. But, also, you try to use it as a learning opportunity."
Between Kluber and Josh Tomlin, who worked one simulated inning, the prospects had a pair of great examples to watch.
Kluber was not considered an elite pitching prospect, but the righty reinvented himself in the Minors and developed into an American League Cy Young Award winner and the leader of the Tribe's staff. Tomlin was a 19th-round Draft pick in 2006, making him the longest-tenured player in the organization. The righty has found success through his pinpoint command.
"Every one of them sitting back there probably has better stuff than Tomlin," Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway said of the prospects who watched the sim games. "Tomlin goes out there and throws the ball over the plate and makes you hit it. That's what's going to make each one of them successful."
Kluber agreed that the young pitchers should look up to Tomlin.
"Josh is probably the best case for a lot of those guys to watch, because he's here strictly on work," Kluber said. "He worked himself into the pitcher that he is. It's got to be a valuable experience for those guys to witness that first-hand."
Due to a variety of health issues for Carlos Carrasco, Danny Salazar and Trevor Bauer during the postseason, Kluber and Tomlin shouldered the heaviest load en route to the World Series. Between the regular season and playoffs, Kluber logged 249 1/3 innings and Tomlin worked 191 2/3 innings. Kluber worked 34 1/3 innings in the postseason and started three World Series games.
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"It was amazing," Callaway said. "To ask what we asked from them was unfair probably, but they handled it unbelievably."
The volume of innings logged by Kluber and Tomlin last year led Cleveland to devise a conservative plan for the early portion of Spring Training. After gradually building up over the past couple of weeks, Kluber is now scheduled to make his Cactus League debut Monday, with Tomlin following suit Thursday.
Kluber said he feels on pace with his past springs, and is planning on taking the ball Opening Day.
"I feel right on track to where I would normally be at this point," Kluber said. "If something creeps up and I'm not able to, then we can work around it. But, I think the plan is to be ready when Opening Day comes around."
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 listen to his podcast.