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Cleveland Indians

Battle for fifth spot continues

By Sheldon Published: March 1, 2009

Jeremy Sowers and Zach Jackson are competing for the fifth spot in the Indians' rotation, along with Aaron Laffey and David Huff.

Jackson started the 6-4 victory Sunday over the Colorado Rockies at Goodyear Ballpark, and Sowers followed him. Each pitcher gave up one run, four hits and a walk in two innings, so statistically, at least, there was little to chose between them.

``I don't want to say I took a step back,'' Sowers said. ``But I didn't keep my fastball down the way I wanted to. As long as the ball is down in a ground ball kind of atmosphere, things probably won't be too bad.''

Sowers had a similar problem in his first spring outing, when he gave up three hits and one run in a two-inning stint.

Jackson probably gave up the harder-hit balls, including a double, but the results were the similar.

``I would have liked to have the left-handers see my breaking ball more,'' Jackson said. ``But they hit a couple of first pitch fastballs, so I didn't get a chance to do that.''

In his first spring appearance, Jackson allowed one run and one hit in two innings.

Manager Eric Wedge had good things to say about both pitchers.

``I thought both were pretty good today,'' he said. ``They struggled a little with left-handers, but they can work to get better. Both guys had live fastballs in the zone. They also trusted their stuff, which you like to see early in camp.''

HEALTH UPDATES -- Kerry Wood and Adam Miller continue to prep for game action, though neither is expected to pitch in the next few days.

Wood (sore back) threw a 40-pitch bullpen session Sunday and reported no ill effects. Wedge said Miller's ouchy finger is ``a lot better today.''

KNOCK KNEED -- Stephen Head slammed his knee into the fence chasing a foul ball down the right-field foul line.

``He banged his knee, so we got him out of there a little earlier than we wanted to,'' Wedge said. ``Of course, this is a baseball world, so he also fouled a pitch off his leg.''

Head is not expected to miss any action.

KEY HITS -- Jhonny Peralta singled and hit his first home run of the spring, driving in two runs, and Trevor Crowe singled and doubled and scored twice. Peralta has four hits in eight spring at-bats. Tony Graffanino had two hits and is 3-for-6 for the spring, and Head had two RBI and a single.

SHIFTING SANDS -- With the Chicago White Sox the first of Tucson's three spring tenants to leave for metro Phoenix, the Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks can't be far behind.

The Rockies' lease includes a provision that if one team flees Tucson, they are free to follow. That will happen, probably by 2011. Three possible sites are being considered in the Phoenix area. The Diamondbacks also are free to leave if they are the only team remaining. That will be the case, and the Diamondbacks also are looking to relocate to Phoenix.

MARCHING ONWARD -- The Indians stay in Goodyear this afternoon to play the Texas Rangers. Laffey will start for the Tribe against Matt Harrison, with Rafael Betancourt, Matt Herges, Masa Kobayashi, Juan Salas, John Meloan, Tomo Ohka, Greg Aquino, Ryan Edell and Edward Mujica set to follow Laffey.

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