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Cleveland Indians

Smith makes spring debut

By Sheldon Published: March 11, 2009

It took awhile, but after being laid low by an unnnamed virus, Joe Smith made his first spring training appearance as the Indians lost 5-0 to the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday at Goodyear Ballpark.

For five days, Smith battled headaches and other symptoms and had get his strength back before Tribe officials would let him back on the mound.

``It's about time I got out there,'' Smith said after throwing one scoreless inning and allowingone hit. ""I was rushing some of my pitches today; I was a little excited, but I'll get there.''

Asked about his illness, Smith said, ""It lasted awhile and it wasn't much fun. I wouldn't recommend it.''

Smith drops down and throws sidearm. According to the conventional wisdom, that makes him vulnerable to left-handed batters, who see the ball longer as it leaves his hand.

""I have to get the ball inside to lefties,'' Smith said. ""That's my biggest problem. But I've been working on it a lot.''

Smith will have plenty of time to get ready for the season. With more than three weeks of camp left, he probably will receive at least eight more chances to pitch. ¶

""It was good to get Joe out there,'' manager Eric Wedge said. ""He will do nothing but get better.''

LEE STRUGGLES -- Cliff Lee made his second appearance of the spring and gave up four runs (three earned), five hits and a walk in three innings.

""He worked through three innings, which was good to see,'' Wedge said. ""He was right at 50 pitches, so it was a good workout.''

Jeremy Sowers delivered his best outing of the spring, throwing three scoreless innings, giving up two hits and a walk.

""The biggest thing that helped me today was throwing strikes,'' he said. ""When you throw more strikes, you can control the tempo of the game.''

Wedge mentioned that in earlier appearances, Sowers would show a live fastball but erratic command or lesser quality stuff and more precise control.

""Today, he put both together, the live fastball and the command,'' the manager said.

FIRSTS -- Grady Sizemore played center field for the first time this spring, returning to his position after suffering a strained groin early in camp and being limited to DH at-bats. . . . Travis Hafner got to be the DH for the second consecutive day, the first time he had played in back-to-back games.

Sizemore and Hafner each were hitless in three at-bats.

RETURNEES -- Three Tribe players are back or on their way back from the World Baseball Classic tournament.

Rafael Perez, who played for the ousted Dominican Republic team, is scheduled to arrive today as is Nick Weglarz, who will report to the minor-league camp. Weglarz played for Canada, which also was eliminated.

Damaso Espino, who played for Panama, was in camp Wednesday.

MARCHING ONWARD -- The Indians have no game scheduled today.

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