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Cleveland Indians

What a relief

By Sheldon Published: March 17, 2009

After Cliff Lee put the Indians in a 10-0 hole Tuesday, the Tribe wasn't likely to rally for victory, and thus fell to the Rangers 11-5 at Surprise Stadium.

Maybe the only good thing about the game from the Cleveland perspective -- other than it didn't count -- was the workmanship of the bullpen.

After Lee left, the relievers delivered 5 1/3 innings and allowed only one run and two hits. Masa Kobayashi, who has struggled all spring, gave up the run on two hits, striking out two in working one inning.

But manager Eric Wedge thought he saw progress in Kobayashi.

"He was better today,'' he said. ""He mixed in his split. I also thought that Joe Smith threw the ball well, and (Edward) Mujica did a little better.''
  
Mujica and Kobayashi have had close to disastrous springs. Coming into Tuesday's game, Kobayashi had permitted seven runs, nine hits and five walks in four innings. Mujica had been tagged for eight runs, 10 hits (four homers) and two walks in 42/3 innings.

Tuesday, Mujica worked a hitless inning and struck out one. Kirk Saarloos replaced Lee and pitched 1 1/3 hitless innings, walking one and striking out one. Smith, making his second appearance of the spring, also threw a hitless inning, striking out one. He was sidelined early in camp with a viral infection.

Kerry Wood made his third appearance and continued to be impressive, working a hitless inning. He has allowed no runs and one hit in three innings.

One of the most prolific hitters in baseball, Michael Young, looked like a little leaguer, jumping back from a Wood curveball that was called a strike.

NUMBER ONE -- Grady Sizemore has had a productive spring, but until Tuesday he had not hit a home run. Now he has. With a 2-for-4 game, he raised his average to .435.

Kelly Shoppach (.286), Matt LaPorta (.296) and Michael Aubrey (.476) also had two hits apiece. 

NEW SEASON -- The Tribe minor leaguers begin their exhibition season today, which has implications for the big-league camp. Cuts will start to be more numerous, because players trimmed from the major-league roster will have a place to play in the minor-league camp.

MARCHING ONWARD -- The Indians are off today.

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