GOODYEAR, Ariz.: Zach McAllister’s ticket was officially punched for the rotation on Sunday.
Weeks ago, General Manager Chris Antonetti announced that McAllister was one of four pitchers with a secure job in the rotation. However, one of the rituals of baseball mandates that managers inform young pitchers of their roster status. That’s what manager Terry Francona did Sunday.
“McAllister is in the rotation,” the manager said. “I talked to him this morning. David Huff is now competing for a spot in the bullpen.”
Asked what it was he liked most about McAllister, Francona said, “Everything. His presence, his leadership qualities and his big arm. I told him that every time he takes the mound, his guys should think that they have a chance to win.”
For most of the spring, Francona has talked about McAllister’s potential to be a leader on the staff.
“He’ll be a leader in the future,” the manager said. “With guys like him paving the way, we have a good future. When guys are young, maybe it’s not time for them to be a real leader. But he’s been a leader everywhere he’s been.”
McAllister knew he was a good bet to win a job in the rotation, but it’s dangerous for youthful pitchers to take anything for granted.
“He said I was in the rotation, and I loved hearing that,” McAllister said. “But I have to keep the same mindset, to go out and be productive.”
Huff’s status will change from prospective starter to prospective reliever. He was a longshot to make the rotation, and he is not a lock to make it in the bullpen. But his chances are improved.
“David already is stretched out, so he can throw multiple innings,” Francona said. “Where this goes, I don’t know, but I’m glad he’s stretched out.”
Tribe is Texas toast
Brett Myers faded in his fourth and last inning, as the Texas Rangers defeated the Indians 7-6 Sunday at Goodyear Ballpark.
Myers delivered three strong innings before giving up five runs (four earned) and six hits, including two doubles and a home run by Craig Gentry.
“My arm got a little fatigued in the last inning,” Myers said. “It was dragging behind, and my pitches weren’t crisp. This is the first time I’ve thrown 70 pitches. I hadn’t done it in a long time (2011) but that’s no excuse.”
Francona wasn’t surprised.
“Myers threw 3⅔ tremendous innings, then he got a little tired and got some pitches up,” the manager said. “I think you see that (tired arm) with everybody. That’s why we have spring training. But that was the best breaking ball I’ve seen him throw.”
Carlos Carrasco, who is competing for a spot in the rotation, followed Myers and gave up two runs, four hits and two walks in four innings.
“He had good stuff,” Francona said. “But he still is battling inconsistency.”
Carrasco did not pitch in 2012 because he was recuperating from elbow reconstruction surgery.
After watching replays of the brawl between Team Canada and Italy in Saturday’s World Baseball Classic play, Francona was sure there would be punishment handed out.
“I was surprised there were no suspensions,” he said. “There were some haymakers being thrown. Maybe there’s a different set of rules.”
The Indians begin the regular season with 13 consecutive games without an off day, which is making Francona think about the viability of his pitching staff.
Asked if he would consider putting 13 pitchers on the roster temporarily, he said, “I’m not saying I wouldn’t. We’ll do whatever puts us in the best position to be successful.’’
Strikes to spare
Trevor Bauer got his work in Saturday by throwing in a “B” game against the Chicago White Sox, making Francona smile.
“He threw a ton of strikes with his off-speed stuff,” the manager said. “He wanted to work on those pitches. I think he threw 40 of 51 strikes. It was silly.”
Actually Bauer threw 40 of 58 pitches for strikes, still a high percentage (69).
Reynolds sits out
Mark Reynolds didn’t play on Sunday because of a minor back injury.
“He’s a little stiff,” Francona said. “It seems silly to push it, so I’ll be surprised if he plays tomorrow. We’ll get him through the off day (Tuesday).”
Said Reynolds, “It’s no big deal.”
The Indians remain in Goodyear today to play the Los Angeles Angels. Scott Kazmir will start against Jered Weaver.
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.