Huff leaves early, Indians lose to D-backs
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- Miguel Montero is showing the Arizona Diamondbacks why they should give him a long-term deal.
Montero hit a three-run home run to carry the Diamondbacks to a 5-4 victory over a Cleveland Indians split squad on Thursday.
Montero and the Diamondbacks could not agree on an extension in the offseason so the 28-year-old will be a free agent after the season. Montero, who set career highs with 18 home runs (18), 86 RBIs and 65 runs scored last season, is batting .343 this spring.
"I just want to have good at bats and feel good at the plate," Montero said. "I haven't felt good at the plate until two or three days ago. It wasn't anything I was worried about. I thought the hitting would come at some point."
Arizona starter Tyler Skaggs picked up the win, allowing two runs on six hits in 4 2-3 innings. He struck out five and walked two. Jensen Lewis pitched a scoreless ninth for his second save.
Skaggs, considered the team's third-best prospect, came to the Diamondbacks in August 2010 from the Angels, along with fellow left handers Joe Saunders and Patrick Corbin and righty Rafeal Rodriquez for Dan Haren. He will most likely start the season at Double-A Mobile.
"I have had some ups and downs. I have some really bad ones and some really good ones," Skaggs said. "Pitching is all about being in a grove. I am confident about my stuff and I feel like I can only get better."
Indians starter David Huff left the game after facing just one batter with a strained right hamstring. Huff deflected a grounder off the bat of Arizona's leadoff hitter Willie Bloomquist. He then scooped the ball up with his glove and tried to flip it to first when the injury occurred. Huff, who is one of three players vying for the final spot in the rotation, limped off the field and was taken to the clubhouse on a golf cart.
"The injury to Huff made us short-handed right away," Indians Bench Coach Sandy Alomar Jr. said. "I am not sure how bad it is, but today we had to burn some guys earlier and use our pinch hitters right away."
The Indians' Chris Ray gave up Montero's homer and took the loss. He threw two innings, his first two-inning stint of the spring, gave up the three runs and two hits with two walks and struck out three.
Jason Donald had three hits and scored twice, while Casey Kotchman had two hits and two RBIs for Cleveland.
NOTES: The Indians acquired RHP Jairo Asencio from the Braves in exchange for cash. Asencio has a 3.27 ERA with 12 strikeouts in 11 innings this spring. Last season he spent the majority if the season with Triple-A Gwinnett, going 3-2 with a 1.81 ERA and 26 saves in 47 games. The 27-year old does not have any options left so if the club wants to send him to the minors he first must clear waivers. ... With the injury to Huff, Jeanmar Gomez and Kevin Slowey are left to compete for the fifth spot in the rotation. The club would like to see both pitch in one more spring game before a decision is made. Gomez will be on the mound Friday against the Reds, however the team has not announced when Slowey will pitch. ... After the game, the Diamondbacks reassigned RHP Jensen Lewis to Triple-A Reno and reassigned OF Adam Eaton to Double-A Mobile. Lewis, who earned his second save of the spring has not allowed a run or walked anyone in his eight innings. Eaton was batting .273.