GOODYEAR, Ariz.: At least one member of the Indians’ hierarchy endorses Trevor Bauer’s 350-foot long-toss drill — manager Terry Francona.
“I like it,” Francona said Tuesday. “As an organization, I think we need to incorporate more of it. As long as it’s done correctly.”
Bauer, though he is only 22, has definite ideas about how to maximize his ability. His long-toss program is only one element of his routine.
Francona pointed out that Bauer isn’t the first pitcher who has used long tossing to strengthen his arm. Bauer isn’t even the first Tribe pitcher to employ the technique.
Derek Lowe, who began last year in the Indians’ rotation, also throws long toss to keep his arm in shape.
“I didn’t see him do it,” Francona said, “but his arm has always been very resilient.”
Lowe, who turned 39 midway through last season, remains a free agent, though in the past week the Colorado Rockies inquired about him.
It’s one thing for strong-armed Bauer to throw a ball 300 feet or more, but what about the guy who has to throw it back? Recently, that has been Scott Kazmir, another starter trying to earn a spot in the rotation.
“He told me he felt good until he had to get the throw back to Trevor,” Francona said, smiling. “But we can use a cutoff man if we need to.”
Carlos Carrasco still has a six-game suspension hanging over his head from throwing at the head of Billy Butler of the Kansas City Royals on July 29, 2011.
The suspension was never served because a serious injury forced Carrasco to undergo elbow reconstruction surgery in September, 2011.
Having recovered fully, Carrasco is considered the frontrunner to win the final spot in the rotation but still faces the prospect of dealing with the suspension.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Francona said, hoping that after so much time has elapsed, the term of the punishment will change.
Opening Day, sort of
Exhibition season begins Friday with the Indians playing the Cincinnati Reds.
Pitchers for the Cactus League opener will be announced today, but don’t read anything into the group being first. For at least the first four weeks, pitching assignments are based on a preset schedule.
“For the first two games, position players will play three innings in both games,” Francona said. “Sunday is a split-squad day. We don’t want guys playing a lot of innings yet, so we’ll bring some players over from the minor-league side.”
No harm, no foul
Most pitchers did not want to throw over the top of protective “L” screens for batting practice because it restricts their arm movement.
No casualties were reported, but Justin Masterson and Vinnie Pestano were tagged in the leg with batted balls and didn’t flinch.
“Somebody took one off the heel, but it was no big deal,” Francona said. “I think they all get more out of it without the screens, and the drill is for the pitchers.”
Francona is in no hurry to name an Opening Day starter, and for the first time in several years the decision is not a slam dunk.
“I’ve never been in a real rush to name an Opening Day starter, even if I know,” Francona said. “Sometimes the weather or a pulled hammy can come into play, so I’ll wait awhile.”
Giovanni Soto moved from the provisional list to becoming a member of Team Puerto Rico for the World Baseball Classic tournament that begins in early March.
Soto posted a 6-9 record and 3.93 ERA for the Double-A Aeros last year and is not a candidate to make the Tribe’s 12-man pitching staff.
Francona will not ask Team USA manager Joe Torre to allow Chris Perez and Pestano to return to camp from WBC workouts for a day or two to get their work in.
“They’re playing two [exhibition] games, and that’s when they’re pitching,” Francona said. “So we can let them stay there and enjoy the whole experience.”
Sheldon Ocker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Indians blog at http://www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SheldonOckerABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.