GOODYEAR, Ariz.: It was a tough day for Indians’ starting pitchers.
Derek Lowe and David Huff left their games early, as the Indians split the roster, losing to the Colorado Rockies 6-3 in Goodyear and dropping a 5-4 decision to the Arizona Diamondbacks in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Lowe gave up two runs and three hits in three innings but didn’t come out for the fourth.
“He threw the ball well,” Acta said. “But we had him come out because of back spasms. If this was the middle of the year, he would have pitched through it, but this is not the time to do something like that.”
Acta did not have a full report from head trainer Lonnie Soloff, but he didn’t think the injury would keep Lowe off the mound.
“I’m not anticipating anything serious,” Acta said. “He has one more start in North Carolina.”
The Tribe plays its Class A affiliate in Zebulon, N.C., on April 3, the day after leaving Arizona.
Huff faced only one batter in Scottsdale and left after trying to make a play.
“He was trying to field a ground ball and hurt his hamstring,” Acta said.
Huff was competing for the fifth spot in the rotation and was considered a long shot against Kevin Slowey and Jeanmar Gomez.
Various Internet reports say the Indians are close to a deal for 38-year-old Bobby Abreu of the Angels.
Abreu had his worst all-around season in 2011, batting .253 with eight homers and 60 RBI mostly as a designated hitter. A career outfielder who has long struggled on the defensive side, Abreu played only 28 games in the outfield, 18 in left and 10 in right.
If the trade is consummated, it probably will cost the Tribe outfielder Trevor Crowe, who was pulled from a minor-league game Thursday. It is assumed the Angels would pay most of Abreu’s $9 million salary.
Abreu would give the Indians yet another left-handed batter in a left-dominated lineup.
Anticipating questions about the Tribe’s seventh and eighth consecutive defeats in Cactus League play, Acta said: “This is a sad day. We were just eliminated from the second wild-card spot in spring training.”
On the other hand, it was a banner day for Beau Mills. Brought over from the minor-league camp to play first base, he hit two home runs, the first off starting pitcher Juan Nicasio, who struck out six in 5‚ innings and is in the Rockies’ rotation. Mills also had a double.
“It was a great day for Beau Mills,” Acta said. “One guy goes home and another steps up.”
Acta was referring to Russ Canzler, who left the team for the birth of a child in Hazleton, Pa.
Chris Perez pitched in two minor-league games after returning from an oblique injury and faced major-league hitters for the first time Thursday, retiring the side on only five pitches.
“They’re not letting Chris get his work in,” Acta said, joking. “That means he’s throwing strikes. In a way [not throwing many pitches] is a good sign.
“I know guys tend to swing early in spring training, but they were not swinging at balls over their head. Basically, Chris is ready for Opening Day.”
Grady Sizemore has returned to Cleveland to continue his rehab program after undergoing back surgery March 1.
“We’ll get a better sense of a time frame [for his return] once he initiates baseball activity,” General Manager Chris Antonetti said.
That date is uncertain but following surgery, the team expected Sizemore to miss between eight and 12 weeks. That forecast apparently hasn’t changed.
Weather or not
Four online weather services peg the Opening Day temperature in Cleveland in the 50s, with Intellicast predicting the high temperature of 59 and partly cloudy.
The AccuWeather forecast is for 57 degrees and afternoon showers; the Weather Channel says 55 degrees and partly cloudy; and the National Weather Service is predicting 53 degrees and mostly sunny.
Four more minor-leaguers were released Thursday: right-handers Nate Striz and Tony Dischler, outfielder Tony Dunn and catcher Moises Montero.
The Indians stay in Goodyear today to play the Cincinnati Reds. Gomez will start against Johnny Cueto, with Dan Wheeler, Rafael Perez and Vinnie Pestano scheduled to pitch out of the bullpen.
Sheldon Ocker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Indians blog at www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/SheldonOckerABJ and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sports.abj.