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Lewis makes it a three-way race

By Sheldon Published: March 15, 2009

Technically, it's still five for the money, but as of today it's a three-way race among Jeremy Sowers, Aaron Laffey and Scott Lewis to win the fifth spot in the Indians' rotation.

Following very good outings by Sowers and Laffey, Lewis worked a solid four innings in the Tribe's 6-3 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday at Goodyear Ballpark.

Lewis yielded only one run on three hits, striking out two. He mostly limited the Brewers to ground balls (6) while striking out two and walking none.

""Lewis has been very good all camp,'' Indians manager Eric Wedge said. ""He's kind of picked up where he left off last year. And now he has that experience of making four (big-league) starts. I like his heartbeat.''

After being summoned from the minors late last season, Lewis posted as 4-0 record and 2.63 ERA.

David Huff and Zach Jackson still are in the  running for the fifth spot, but they have definitely fallen behind.

Anthony Reyes, who has all but won the fourth spot in the rotation, was limited to two innings Sunday. He gave up one run and two hits, but there were mitigating circumstances.

""Reyes was a little under the weather, so we pulled him out after two,'' Wedge said. ""It's just a bug that's been going around the whole camp.''

Kelly Shoppach and Tony Graffanino led the offense. Shoppach hit his third home run with nobody on in the second innings, and Graffanino singled twice, scoring a run.

WOODWORK -- Kerry Wood pitched another scoreless inning, giving up one hit. In two appearances, he has worked two scoreless innings.

""I feel like I'm back to where I need to be,'' he said. ""My body feels good. It's just a matter of getting my innings up.''

Wood was sidelined early in camp with soreness in his back.

FIRST CUTS -- Three pitchers were sent back to the minor-league complex, including left-hander Rich Rundles who hasd been expected to compete for the final berth in the bullpen.

Rundles was optioned Columbus; right-hander Tomo Ohka and lefty Ryan Edell were re-assigned to the minor-league camp. That leaves 59 players on the big-league side of the complex.

Considered a left-on-left pitcher, Rundles spent most of last year at Triple-A, but he pitched eight times for tghe Tribe, giving up one run in five innings. This spring, he pitched five times in exhibition games and yielded eight runs and nine hits in four innings.

""It's getting to the point where innings are tough to come by,'' Wedge said. ""Rundles needs to be very good against left-handers and be able to defend himself against right-handers. It's fairly new for him to be dropping down (throwing sidearm), and he has to get more consistent with that. So he has more development to do.''

IF YOU BUILD IT -- The largest crowd of the spring at Goodyear Park, 7,429, turned out for Sunday's game. The previous high was 6,304 on  on March 7 against Kansas City.

TARGET PRACTICE -- Prince Fielder is a magnet for wayward pitches, at least against Indians left-handers.

He was struck by a Scott Lewis pitch in the first inning Sunday. He also was hit by Cliff Lee and Jeremy Sowers in an earlier game.

MARCHING ONWARD -- The Indians remain at Goodyear this afternoon to play the Seattle Mariners. Jeremy Sowers will make his fifth appearance of the spring. Chris Jakubauskas will start for the Mariners.

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