SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Cleveland ace Corey Kluber tuned up for the regular season, striking out nine over six effective innings Friday in the Indians’ 3-2 loss to Josh Collmenter and the split-squad Arizona Diamondbacks.
In a matchup between pitchers set to start on opening day, Kluber gave up one run and six hits. The AL Cy Young Award winner walked two.
"I feel like I’m getting stronger each time out, and I was able to get the pitch count up to where I wanted it today," Kluber said after throwing 107 pitches. "I’m getting sharper and as long as that continues, we’re in a good place."
Collmenter threw three-hit ball in seven shutout innings. He struck out three and walked two.
"I was able to make pitches when I needed to, and that was key," Collmenter said, adding that he enjoyed going against one of the game’s best pitchers.
"It’s fun having those matchups because you can see everybody at their best," he said. "It might make you play to a little higher level."
Arizona scored off Kluber in the first inning on doubles by Chris Owings and David Peralta.
Owings also tripled. Jake Lamb hit two doubles for the Diamondbacks.
Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale hopes to have his major league roster figured out by next Friday, three days before they open the season.
"We’ll make a cut on Sunday," Hale said.
Hale said he’s leaning toward going with two long relievers, and limiting Daniel Hudson’s inning if he’s in the starting rotation. Hudson came back from Tommy John surgery late last season.
"Anybody that doesn’t start could be in that mix," Hale said of the candidates for those spots. If Hudson is a starter, only one more rotation spot remains and there are several pitchers being considered, including Randall Delgado, Vidal Nuno, Andrew Chaffin, Robbie Ray, Allen Webster and A.J. Schugel.
Trevor Cahill pitched 5 2-3 innings in a minor league game Thursday and might be the front-runner for the last rotation spot.
Hale also had to decide if he wants to carry two or three catchers. Jordan Pacheco could be the third catcher and can also play positions in the field.
Peralta made two plays in left field that took away potential hits from Jerry Sands. Peralta had a sliding catch in the second inning and an even more impressive grab of a sinking line drive on the run in the seventh. Replays might have shown the ball bounce just in front of Peralta on the latter play, but there was no review.
Hale said Peralta will get a day off Saturday after playing nine innings Friday, as did Lamb.
"Plays great defense out there, whether it’s right or left," Hale said. "He’s been very impressive to me."
Collmenter and Hale both feel there’s nothing left to work on in spring training for the pitcher, who will get one more start before the season opens. Well, maybe one thing.
"Just pitching a night game, I guess," Collmenter said. "I’ll wait until opening day for that."
Indians: OF Michael Brantley (lower back soreness) will miss the next few games for precautionary reasons. … Nick Swisher, coming off knee surgery, is running and doing agility drills and was expected to be OK to play in a minor league game.
Diamondbacks: Hale said the MRI on reliever Matt Stites’ elbow on Thursday looked clean. Stites has yet to pitch in a spring training game, and Hale said there is no timetable on when he will do so after a recent setback.
"I didn’t think it got any worse," Stites said. "The last three or four days its progressed a lot better, a lot better than the last time."
Indians: Zach McAllister faces the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday. He’s made three starts and five appearances this spring and has a 3.21 ERA, and is firmly in competition for a starting rotation spot.
Diamondbacks: Jeremy Hellickson, in line to start the third game of the regular season, is on the mound against the Kansas City Royals on Saturday. Hale said Hellickson will go full bore after some dead arm forced him to miss a minor league start on Thursday.
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