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Kluber teaches campers game's fundamentals

MLB.com

CLEVELAND -- From the parking lot of suburban Mentor High School, the cheers of nearly 300 children could be heard after they took direction from Indians ace Corey Kluber on Thursday morning.

Kluber, along with some of the area's top high school and college baseball coaches, led approximately 260 kids in grades 1-8 at the Corey Kluber Baseball ProCamp, an instructional clinic focused on the fundamentals of hitting, fielding and pitching at the high school.

CLEVELAND -- From the parking lot of suburban Mentor High School, the cheers of nearly 300 children could be heard after they took direction from Indians ace Corey Kluber on Thursday morning.

Kluber, along with some of the area's top high school and college baseball coaches, led approximately 260 kids in grades 1-8 at the Corey Kluber Baseball ProCamp, an instructional clinic focused on the fundamentals of hitting, fielding and pitching at the high school.

For Kluber, the chance to teach Cleveland's youth on his day off brings back childhood memories of his own.

"You just get to go out and have a good time and play some baseball," Kluber said.

The camp helped kids learn a variety of skills, drills and games, and all campers received a camp T-shirt and a team photo signed by Kluber.

"You want them to be versatile, but more importantly, you want them to fall in love with the game," said Patrick Conway of Willoughby, Ohio, a parent to one of the campers. "It looked like [Kluber] was at every station with the kids. He was here early."

Aside from all of the lessons, Conway said that seeing the kids beam at the sight of a superstar pitcher is motivating.

"He's got pictures of Corey in his room and we have a signed jersey, so this was a dream come true for my son," Conway said. "He was pretty stoked."

A similar sentiment was shared by Tabatha Luzar, a parent of another camper from nearby Kirtland, Ohio.

"My kid plays baseball every day," she Luzar. "If he doesn't have a game, he's playing catch or he's getting the neighbors to come over, or he's playing catch in the pool. Whatever he does, he has to have a ball in his hand."

Kluber was in charge of most of the pitching drills. The right-hander said the most important advice he offered to the campers wasn't a physical technique but the value of the mental side of the game.

"Somebody asked me, 'You can hit buckets and buckets of balls, but you can't make 500 throws in a day, so how do you practice pitching?' And I told them you try to make every pitch count," Kluber said. "You only have a certain number of throws you can make in a day, or otherwise your arm might fall off, but try to have a goal and try to improve with each pitch."

Kluber was typically dominant on Wednesday afternoon, holding the White Sox to one hit across seven scoreless innings while striking out seven. The effort improved Kluber to 11-3 with a 2.10 ERA.

Kluber, the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner, preached that the campers should focus on perfecting fundamentals while enjoying their time on the field.

"We have an opportunity as members of the Indians to do different things throughout the year to bring joy," Kluber said. "I think it's something that gives an opportunity to get kids out here and give them a chance to have some fun."

Casey Harrison is reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland.

Cleveland Indians, Corey Kluber