Pleading for the fifth

Kevin Slowey knows he can trust the batch of infielders the Indians can put out there behind him. So much so, the righty wants to get them as many ground balls as he can.

With Casey Kotchman at first, Jason Kipnis at second, Asdrubal Cabrera at short and either Jack Hannahan or Lonnie Chisenhall at third, Slowey’s pitch-to-contact style is a nice fit.

The thing is, he’s always been predominantly a flyball pitcher. He’s trying to find ways mechanically this spring to hopefully put the ball on the ground more often.

“That’s something he’s working on,” manager Manny Acta said, “trying to keep the ball on the ground, getting some movement on his pitches.”

In Sunday’s 6-1 split-squad loss to the Rangers, Slowey found success to a certain extent. Eight of the 15 batters he faced put the ball on the ground, which is certainly a positive sign. Three wound up as hits, four for outs and one led to an error.

Overall, Slowey gave up two runs on five hits across three innings. He struck out one (looking) and finished with no walks. For the most part, Slowey sounded pleased with what he was able to accomplish in his latest spring effort.

“Today was certainly closer mechanically to where I want to be,” Slowey said. “I was getting more ground balls than fly balls. Obviously, some of those found holes through the infield and some were hit better than others, certainly.

“But, there were times I didn’t put myself in a great position count-wise and the guy was able to take a bigger hack than he would’ve otherwise. But still, overall, mechanically it’s getting there.”

As much as Slowey wants to induce grounders at a higher rate, though, there is the old saying of, “He is what he is.” Even if you toss out last year’s injury-hindered season, Slowey’s career grounder-to-flyball ratio is just 0.48. Batters put the ball in play 73 percent of the time over that span.

So, Slowey is going to give up his hits. And, a good chunk of the fly balls will turn into homers (18 on average each year from ’07-10). Slowey is a lot like Josh Tomlin in that way, though. As long as he limits the traffic by keeping the walks to a minimum, a team can live with a few solo homers and stranded baserunners.

More grounders would certainly help Slowey’s cause.

Some notes from Sunday…

  • CF Felix Pie left the game against Texas in the eighth inning after running hard into the wall in center. Acta said Pie was a little dizzy, but he passed a variety of tests given to him by the team’s medical staff. We’ll get an update on him on Monday.
  • Minor League righty Austin Adams had his stint in Major League camp come to a sour end. After working his way back on a mound, soreness in his throwing shoulder persisted and he’s been shut down again. Acta said an MRI on Saturday came back clean, but Adams said he’s still waiting to find out more detailed information about the extent of his injury.
  • Adams will be officially re-assigned to Minor League camp on Monday, along with reliever Tyler Sturdevant and catcher Chun Chen. Both Sturdevant (right shoulder) and Chen (right ankle) also had their big league camp experiences shortened due to ill-timed injuries. Acta said Sturdevant could impact the big league bullpen at some point this year if he doesn’t suffer any setbacks.
  • On the positive injury front, lefty Rafael Perez is progressing well in his throwing program, according to Acta. Perez is slated to face hitters in a simulated setting within the next few days after upping the intensity in his most recent bullpen session. Cactus League games shouldn’t be too far off.
  • Slowey took the mound in Surprise, while lefty David Huff — another fifth spot competitor — toed the rubber in Tempe. Facing the Angels, Huff allowed five runs (four earned) on seven hits in three innings. He struck out two and walked one. Slowey and Huff are up against Jeanmar Gomez and Zach McAllister.
  • Acta and the media corps al headed to the game against the Rangers in Surprise. For the sake of all of our eyes, seems like we made the right choice. The Angels routed the Tribe 17-2 in that split-squad contest. Combined, the Indians made seven errors and were outscored 23-3 on Sunday. Over the past five days? Indians have allowed 46 runs on 75 hits.
  • First baseman Casey Kotchman was a late scratch from Sunday’s lineup in Tempe due to tightness in his lower back. Matt LaPorta started in his place and went 2-for-4 to snap out of an 0-for-10 dry spell. LaPorta has six strikeouts in 14 at-bats this spring.
  • Indians designated hitter Travis Hafner cleared the fence for the first time this spring on Sunday, belting a solo shot off Scott Downs. Hafner finished 2-for-3 on the afternoon.
  • The Indians and Angels cancelled a “B” game for next week, but Cleveland has reeled in another taker in the Cubs. Chicago will head to Goodyear for a “B” game against the Indians on March 19. Those games are typically at 10 a.m. local time, and they’re free to the public.
  • Lefty Tony Sipp had a forgettable inning in Sunday’s game against Texas. Sipp allowed three runs (two earned) on five hits with two strikeouts and one walk. Along the way, the pitcher made two errors. Acta was asked if it was an example of a spring outing you can just write off.
  • Acta replied: “It’s nothing to write off. It’s just a typical example, for those that think Spring Training is too long, I differ. I think Spring Training is that long for a reason. I mean, we had 1,000 PFPs — pitchers’ fielding practice — and 1,000 run downs already, and then we get out there and we didn’t do a very good job today. So I never think Spring Training is too long. We need to continue to work on things.”

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Photo of the Day

Ah, Spring Training.

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Make sure you’re reading Indians.com and following me on Twitter (@MLBastian). To see more of my Spring Training photos, CLICK HERE.

Stay tuned for more…

–JB

2 Comments

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