GOODYEAR, Ariz.: The Indians played their first of two intrasquad games today with Smitty's American Racers (managed by coach Steve Smith) defeating Sarby's Sourballs (managed by Columbus skipper Mike Sarbaugh) 3-2.
The game was limited to four innings, because manager Manny Acta wanted to see eight pitchers throw one inning apiece. Friday, 14 more pitchers will see action in a seven-inning practice game.
The hero of the game was Jason Donald, the frontrunner to win the third base job who is trying to solidify his hold on the position. Donald tripled, singled, drove in one run, scored another and turned in an excellent fielding play.
""In terms of alignment and positioning, I think everything is going well,'' Donald said.
Has any play in drills been particularly difficult for the converted shortstop/second baseman?
""Ask me again in a couple of months,'' Donald said.
Usually, intrasquad games are domninated by pitchers, who have been in camp longer than position players. But today, the teams combined for 12 hits, including Michael Brantley's triple plus doubles by Shelley Duncan, Luis Valbuena and Matt LaPorta, in addition to Donald's extra-base hit. Donald was the only player to get two hits, but players only received two at-bats max.
Maybe it was bad pitching rather than good hitting. Only time will tell. It's silly to make definitive evaluations based on an intrasquad game.
Four pitchers, in particular, struggled. David Huff failed to get through his inning, giving up three hits and one run, retiring two batters. Joe Smith replaced him and yielded three hits and two runs in two-thirds of an inning. Doug Mathis completed his inning but gave up one run on three hits, and Nick Hagadone yielded one run and two hits in his inning.