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Multi-inning work brings out best in McAllister

'When he gets stretched out, he's a better pitcher,' said Francona, who expects big year from righty
MLB.com @MLBastian

LAS VEGAS -- Indians manager Terry Francona does not feel that one-inning outings in the spring are the best way to help Zach McAllister properly prepare for the season ahead. For the big right-hander, Francona has found that multi-inning appearances are beneficial on a few fronts.

"Since I've been here, when he gets stretched out, he's a better pitcher," Francona said before Sunday's 11-4 win over the Cubs at Cashman Field. "When he comes in for one inning in Spring Training, he may have an eight-pitch inning where he doesn't necessarily have to execute pitches. He may execute pitches, but he may not and still get out of an inning -- let's say you get a first-pitch lineout.

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LAS VEGAS -- Indians manager Terry Francona does not feel that one-inning outings in the spring are the best way to help Zach McAllister properly prepare for the season ahead. For the big right-hander, Francona has found that multi-inning appearances are beneficial on a few fronts.

"Since I've been here, when he gets stretched out, he's a better pitcher," Francona said before Sunday's 11-4 win over the Cubs at Cashman Field. "When he comes in for one inning in Spring Training, he may have an eight-pitch inning where he doesn't necessarily have to execute pitches. He may execute pitches, but he may not and still get out of an inning -- let's say you get a first-pitch lineout.

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"When he goes out for three innings, he's got to pitch and it also builds up his stamina and it builds up his arm strength. It's really good for him."

During Saturday's 11-4 loss to the Cubs, McAllister came out of Cleveland's bullpen and logged three innings, in which he allowed one run and had three strikeouts against no walks. That marked the fifth multi-inning effort of the spring for McAllister, who has a 1.35 ERA with 12 strikeouts, five walks and 10 hits allowed in 13 1/3 innings among his eight Cactus League appearances.

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With 10 days still remaining before Opening Day for the Indians, McAllister has already eclipsed his innings total from last spring (11 2/3 innings).

"I just think he's situated to have a really good year," Francona said of McAllister, who had a 2.61 ERA with 66 strikeouts in 62 innings last season. "[One is] opportunity. But I think he's in great shape. His arm looks strong. He bounces back so well. He's so resilient. But I just think he's in a good place.

"Sometimes, guys get to a certain maturity point. I just like the way he's executing pitches. When he doesn't execute a pitch, I like the way he bounces back the next pitch. I just think he's grown a lot, and I think it's good, because we're going to need it."

Spring Training information

Camp battles

• Right-hander Carlos Torres, who is battling for the lone vacancy in the bullpen, turned in one shutout inning in Sunday's win over the Cubs in Las Vegas. Torres struck out two and walked one in the outing, which was a nice bounceback performance after he gave up five runs in his previous Cactus League appearance.

• Third baseman Yandy Diaz -- trying to convince Cleveland to bring him north when camp breaks -- went 3-for-3 vs. the Cubs to improve his spring average to .412. Also in Las Vegas, Rajai Davis went 1-for-3 with a stolen base and Melvin Upton Jr. went 1-for-2 with one RBI in their respective bids to win an outfield job with the Tribe.

Video: CLE@CHC: Diaz plates Upton Jr. with his third hit

Injury updates

Jose Ramirez (right ankle contusion) was out of the lineup for the Indians' 16-3 win over the Mariners in Peoria, Ariz., on Sunday, but Francona said the third baseman was doing better. Ramirez, who exited Saturday's game after being struck on the ankle by a throw from the catcher on a steal attempt of third, is slated to return to game action on Monday.

Video: CLE@SD: Ramirez slugs a two-run homer to left field

• After being scratched from the lineup on Saturday due to right calf soreness, outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall was back in the lineup for Cleveland on Sunday in Arizona. He finished 0-for-3.

Michael Brantley (right ankle) played the outfield during his Minor League game action on Saturday.

Worth noting

• Catching prospect Eric Haase (No. 20 on MLB Pipeline's Top 30 Indians prospects list) belted a grand slam in Sunday's win over the Cubs. Haase started behind the plate on Saturday and Sunday and has impressed the team this spring.

Video: CLE@CHC: Haase crushes a grand slam to right in 3rd

It proved to be a grand day for Indians catchers overall as Yan Gomes, who was held back from the trip to Las Vegas due to arm soreness, connected on a grand slam of his own vs. the Mariners.

Video: CLE@SEA: Gomes crushes a grand slam to right-center

• While lefty Tyler Olson is expected to be used mostly against left-handed batters this season, Francona said he will look for opportunities for the reliever to face both left-handed and right-handed hitters, especially early in the season. Between Triple-A and the Majors last season, Olson limited lefties to a .139 average (.528 OPS) and held righties to a .239 (.636 OPS) showing.

"He can sink the ball. I think there's a little deception," Francona said. "Last year, it's not that he couldn't get a righty out, but when you have [Bryan] Shaw sitting out there and you're winning, it's kind of easy to go to [other] guys. I wouldn't be surprised if you see [Olson] pitching full innings, maybe early in the season if we're down a run or two, just to let him get on a roll. We'll kind of see how it goes."

Video: CLE@CHC: Olson on 2017 success, 2018 outlook

• When Francona returns to Goodyear, Ariz., following the Big League Weekend series against the Cubs, the manager plans on getting together with members of his coaching staff and the front office to go over some upcoming roster decisions. With an off-day looming on Tuesday, another round of roster reductions is likely coming soon for the Indians.

Video: CLE@CHC: Francona on Haase's power, Davis' speed

Up next

Right-hander Josh Tomlin is scheduled to start for the Indians on Monday, when the Tribe heads to Scottsdale, Ariz., for a 4:05 p.m. ET Cactus League tilt against the Giants. In three starts this spring, Tomlin has 10 strikeouts, three walks and a 7.36 ERA in 7 1/3 innings of work.

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, Zach McAllister