PEORIA, Ariz. -- The attention to Spring Training results is a strange beast. Pitchers and hitters alike don't give in to putting undue emphasis on a small sample of at-bats or innings pitched in late February and March.So for Indians ace Corey Kluber to allow six runs in his first
PEORIA, Ariz. -- The attention to Spring Training results is a strange beast. Pitchers and hitters alike don't give in to putting undue emphasis on a small sample of at-bats or innings pitched in late February and March.
So for Indians ace Corey Kluber to allow six runs in his first spring outing of the year, it was nothing to worry about. In his second start on Sunday, he held the Padres to two hits in four scoreless innings, then gave up three fluke hits to open the fifth. He allowed two runs in his final line in the Indians' 11-3 win.
"Today I felt a lot more normal," Kluber said. "I was pounding the strike zone better and working ahead. That was one thing I wasn't happy with last time."
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Unlike a regular-season game, where pitchers, catches, and coaches labor over advance reports and video of the hitters they'll face each series and map out a plan of attack, Kluber brings none of that to the mound in Cactus League competition.
"I'm just trying to get a feel for executing pitches," he said. "On all three of those [fifth-inning hits], I executed the pitch. I was happy that I worked ahead today and threw strikes."
Indians manager Terry Francona said Kluber understands the progression of Spring Training, adding a piece of his game with every step toward Opening Day.
"Every time he pitches, something gets better," Francona said before the game. "And by the time you get to the season, he's getting closer to who he is."
"He was real efficient," Francona said after Sunday's win. "[He was] around the plate, like he can be. You're starting to see that late movement. I think he was pleased with it, and he should be."
For relief pitchers, however, who thrive on the intensity of the moment and are single-mindedly focused on ending innings quickly, it's hard to pitch with blinders on.
"I know we're always working on stuff in spring, but at the end of the day, our goal is working on getting outs," left-hander Boone Logan said before he pitched Sunday. "Being competitive is a big part of it. It's hard for us to go out there and work on things, because if we're getting hit around a little bit, we're just like, 'screw it.' We don't want to be out there all day."
Logan came in to spell Kluber in the fifth with the game tied at 1, recording three outs in as many at-bats, although a run scored as a result of a single he gave up to the final hitter of the inning.
"He came in, second and third, punched out the lefty, punched out the righty, and then he left a breaking ball up to the last lefty," Francona said. "We saw some good stuff from him, because that was the situation he'll be coming into games."
Ultimately, Kluber and Logan are a tandem right on time as the midpoint of Spring Training approaches, taking the measured steps necessary to hit the ground running when they face the Rangers on Opening Day.
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com.