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Cleveland Indians

Smith, Kobayashi shine after Lewis fails

By Sheldon Published: March 31, 2009

Like so many of the Indians' spring training games, Tuesday's 12-4 loss to the Mariners wasn't pretty.

The good news for the Tribe: Masa Kobayashi worked a hitless inning, and Joe Smith pitched effectively, despite giving up one run and two hits in two innings. Smith didn't issue a walk and struck out three.

As a sidearming right-hander, his teams have had issues with him facing left-handers, who get a longer look at the ball. Manager Eric Wedge would prefer to leave Smith in against an occasional lefty.

"We were hoping to have more of an opportunity to work on that this spring,'' Wedge said. "But he got sick, and we weren't really able to give him enough work. I feel he's capable of getting lefties out, so we'll work him into that.

"It was good to see him pitch two strong innings, especially in a sloppy game like this.''

Kobayashi has struggled for most of the spring, giving up 10 runs in 10 innings.

"We've had good, bad, good, bad from him,'' Wedge said. ""He needs to run a couple of those good ones together.''

Wedge will use Kobayashi again today.

Scott Lewis gave up 10 runs and 13 hits in 3 2/3 innings and complained that the ball was slippery. That's a common gripe in arid Arizona, but is it a reason to be that bad?

"He's been scuffling with that his last couple of outings,'' manager Wedge said. ""It's not only him. You have a lot of that in Arizona.''

Lewis will stay in Arizona when the team leaves to throw on game against a minor-league team, trying to stay sharp for his first regular-season assignment, the Home Opener April 10.

SURPRISING RETURN -- Juan Lara, 28, at one time a viable Tribe pitching prospect, has been signed to a minor-league contract and will begin a return to throw program in Goodyear.

After Lara suffered multiple injuries in a Nov., 2007, car accident, team officials did not expect him to pitch again. Nor did they know if he would ever make a complete physical recovery from a fractured arm, spine and ribs, a punctured lung and brain trauma.

The injuries were caused by a motorcyclist who broadsided Lara's SUV when he was returning home from a Domican Republic winter league game.

At this point, nobody knows how far Lara can take his career.

MARCHING ONWARD -- The Indians travel to Peoria to play the Mariners this afternoon. Cliff Lee will start against Felix Hernandez. Kerry Wood, Masa Kobayashi, Rafael Perez and Matt Herges will be in the bullpen.

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