GOODYEAR, Ariz.: Indians’ right-hander Josh Tomlin took another step Sunday in his return from reconstructive elbow surgery and former Tribesman Mark Reynolds had a hand in it.
It was the fourth inning, scheduled to be Tomlin’s last in his longest outing of the spring, and the Brewers’ Reynolds was leading off. A year ago when he played for Cleveland, a massive home run by Reynolds cleared the top of the scoreboard at Goodyear Ballpark, at least a 450-foot blast that wasn’t that far from the fronds of a palm tree.
This time, Reynolds smashed a deep bomb to the left field corner that curved foul. Undaunted, Tomlin came back to fan Reynolds and ended up striking out the side as the Indians (9-1-1) defeated the Milwaukee Brewers 4-2.
“It was good to get a strikeout, not because it was him, but because I needed an out right there,” Tomlin said of Reynolds. “He hit that one pretty well foul.”
Against a Brewers’ split squad, Tomlin tossed four scoreless innings, struck out five and gave up only three hits. He said he reached his limit of about 65 pitches.
He walked one batter, Jonathan Lucroy in the first inning, snapping an Indians’ spring streak of 20 consecutive innings without a base on balls allowed.
“I threw quite a few pitches, but I still felt strong,” Tomlin said. “I felt like I had a pretty good breaking ball, I threw that quite a bit. That’s something I need to be able to put guys away with.”
Indians manager Terry Francona was pleased.
“Josh pitched as advertised and the way he needs to pitch,” Francona said. “He threw strikes, he kept the ball down, he holds runners, he basically doesn’t beat himself. The more he gets removed from Tommy John [surgery], the more you see him feeling good about himself and attacking the zone. His future is really bright.”
Tomlin, 29, underwent right elbow reconstruction in August 2012. After compiling a 23-19 record as an Indians starter from 2010-12, he tossed only two innings out of the bullpen for the Tribe in 2013.
He’s battling for the fifth starting spot in the rotation, but may be at a disadvantage because he has an option left. This spring Tomlin (1-0, 2.00 ERA) has allowed eight hits in nine innings over three games.
Even if the odds aren’t in his favor, Tomlin said he’s not losing sleep over his chances at making the 25-man roster.
“I feel pretty blessed to be in this situation competing for this spot,” he said.
Francona batted shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera leadoff against the Brewers to try to get him an extra at-bat before the regulars were lifted. That didn’t happen, but Cabrera went 2 for 2 with a run scored. His double down the left field line helped the Indians take a 1-0 lead they never relinquished.
“I wanted to play him in back-to-back games. He took a couple nice swings yesterday, wanted a chance to get on a little bit of a roll,” Francona said. Cabrera is batting .294 (5 for 17) in seven games.
Francona said rightfielder Ryan Raburn could play today in Goodyear against the Los Angeles Angels. Raburn suffered a bruised left knee when he ran into the wall Friday against the Chicago Cubs in Cubs Park.
JoAnna Garcia Swisher may have a 9-month-old daughter at home, but it hasn’t stopped her acting career. Besides her recurring role on Once Upon a Time, she will play Betty Grissom in ABC’s summer series Astronaut Wives Club. Slated for a 10-episode run and based on a best-selling nonfiction book, the series is set in the 1960s and follows America’s astronauts during the space race. Garcia Swisher may have landed one of the plum parts. Gus Grissom, commander of Apollo 1, died with crewmates Ed White and Roger Chaffee in the mission’s dress rehearsal on Jan. 27, 1967.
Marla Ridenour can be reached at email@example.com. Read her blog at http://www.ohio.com/marla. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MRidenourABJ and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sports.abj.