GOODYEAR, ARIZ.: Corey Kluber came to spring training with his spot in the Indians’ rotation set.
But manager Terry Francona made it official Wednesday, naming the 27-year-old right-hander the No. 2 starter for the season-opening series at Oakland. Kluber will pitch April 1 against the A’s, following Justin Masterson.
“I think he kind of knew. He had been following Masty (Masterson),” Francona said after the Indians defeated the San Diego Padres 12-7 at Goodyear Ballpark. “But it gives me reason to brag about him, which I like because I think he deserves it. I think Corey is quietly becoming one of the better pitchers in the game. It’s going to be fun to watch him grow.”
Acquired in a three-team trade from the Padres in July 2010, Kluber started 24 of 26 games he pitched for the Indians last season, going 11-5 with a 3.85 ERA in 147⅓ innings. Kluber also started 12 games in 2012.
His spot secure, Kluber said he hasn’t approached spring training differently from a year ago.
“Come to the field with a different goal every day, something to work on. Don’t let any days go to waste,” he said.
Kluber worked four innings against the Padres and sailed until the last, when the Padres turned three doubles and a single into three earned runs. Kluber (4.50 ERA) gave up six hits on the day and struck out four without a walk.
“I might have gotten a little bit tired in the fourth,” he said. “My legs might have gotten a little heavy, I left a few balls up.”
Santana goes deep
Carlos Santana hit a two-run home run to right field in the first inning and turned in two impressive plays at third base. With Chris Denorfia at bat in the third inning, Santana backhanded a ball and threw a bullet to first base. He also looked sharp on an Alberto Gonzalez grounder in the fourth.
“He showed his arm, he slowed the game down. I think the more he plays over there the more comfortable he’s going to be because he is very athletic,” Francona said.
Asked about the smile he gave General Manager Chris Antonetti after the play on Denorfia, Francona said, “I look up at Chris on a lot of things. You guys aren’t supposed to see that.”
Outfielder Nyjer Morgan left the game in the eighth inning when he awkwardly stumbled out of the box after hitting a double. He went 2-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored. Francona said he hoped it was nothing more than a left calf strain.
Earlier in the day, Francona said Morgan “seems like he’s on a mission.”
The Indians reduced the roster to 53 with the first spring cuts. Right-hander Austin Adams, left-hander T.J. House, infielders Jesus Aguilar and Jose Ramirez and outfielder Carlos Moncrief were optioned to Triple-A Columbus. Infielder Erik Gonzalez was optioned to Class-A Carolina. Infielders Francisco Lindor and Joey Wendle, catchers Jake Lowery and Roberto Perez, outfielder Tyler Naquin and catcher/infielder Tony Wolters were reassigned to minor-league camp.
Outfielder David Murphy returned to the lineup after being limited to designated-hitter duty for a couple days because of a sore elbow. He went 1-for-3. … Right-hander Frank Herrmann made his first appearance since Feb. 25, 2013, throwing one inning and giving up three runs on four hits, with one walk and a home run. Last year he developed a sore elbow in camp and needed Tommy John surgery March 31 to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. “That’s a huge step for him,” Francona said.
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