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Indians early signs; lefty not vital; exhibition season starts Friday

By Sheldon Ocker Published: February 21, 2013

When Indians pitchers began throwing batting practice earlier this week, catchers began giving pitch signs. In the past, pitchers would indicate by hand signal what pitch they were throwing.

"It’s more like a game situation," manager Terry Francona said. “We aren’t playing intrasquad games, so we try to find other ways to kind of simulate games. That’s the way pitchers really pitch, so it seems to make sense."

Unless Scott Kazmir wins a spot in the rotation, the Tribe will not have a left-handed starter, which doesn’t bother Francona.

"I’d rather have a good pitcher than a lefty or a righty," the manager said. “The idea is to have a guy who gets batters out. A left-hander would be nice, but I’d rather take the best pitcher.’’

Francona doesn’t want to use his position players for extended innings early in exhibition season, but the Tribe has a split squad day on Sunday.

"We’ll play everybody three innings tomorrow and the same guys for three innings Saturday,’’ the manager said. "On the split-squad day, we’ll have to dig deep into the minor-league camp for guys we have here now. I don’t want our (position players) to go too deep too quickly."

Friday's lineup: CF-- Michael Bourn, SS – Asdrubal Cabrera, 2B -- Jason Kipnis, 1B – Nick Swisher,  LF – Michael Brantley, C – Carlos Santana, DH – Mark Reynolds, 3B – Lonnie Chisenhall, RF – Drew Stubbs.

The Indians open the exhibition season today against the Reds.

Giovanni Soto will start for the Tribe and be followed by Vinnie Pestano, Joe Martinez, Rich Hill, Matt Langwell, Fernando Nieve and Frank Herrmann. Tony Cingrani will start for Cincinnati.

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