Kluber, Guerra struggle in final starts before opener
PHOENIX (AP) — Cleveland Indians ace Corey Kluber was far from sharp in his final outing of spring training Tuesday. Same goes for Junior Guerra, the No. 1 starter for the Milwaukee Brewers.
At least their pitching lines from Milwaukee’s 13-12 victory will have no effect on their stats this season.
Kluber, an AL All-Star who shined in the postseason last year, allowed five runs on six hits, including a pair of homers by Orlando Arcia and one by slugger Ryan Braun. The right-hander had six strikeouts and two walks in five innings.
The next time Kluber gets the ball is Monday, when the American League champions start the regular season in Texas against the Rangers.
“Right on track where I need to be,” said Kluber, who went 18-9 last season. “Just left a couple of balls elevated. Do that out here and they put a good swing on it, that’s what’s going to happen.”
Indians manager Terry Francona proclaimed Kluber ready to go.
“Probably picked the wrong day to try some orthotics in his shoes. That first inning he was uncomfortable, then he got rid of them and he was fine,” Francona said. “He wanted to get to about 85 (pitches). I think he got to 84. The ball was flying today. ... He’s prepared for a long season.”
Guerra, who began last season at Triple-A before going 9-3 in 20 big league starts, allowed four runs and nine hits in 3 2/3 innings. He walked two and struck out two.
Guerra will take the mound Monday when the Brewers open against Colorado at Miller Park.
“For me, all the games count,” Guerra said in Spanish. “I’m trying to make my adjustments. It’s not what one wants, in reality, but oh well. I worked hard in the offseason in spring training to try to arrive more ready to go.”
The Indians’ starting rotation is set with Kluber at the top. He’s followed by Carlos Carrasco, Danny Salazar, Josh Tomlin and Trevor Bauer to form one of the top units in the majors.
“We feel good about the group that we have,” Kluber said. “We still have to go out there and execute.”
Guerra ended spring training with six starts, but didn’t pitch more than four innings in any of them. The 32-year-old right-hander spent about a month on the disabled list last August with elbow inflammation, and in his previous spring outing was tagged for seven earned runs and 10 hits in 3 2/3 innings.
“His last start was not good. I thought his start today, it was OK,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “Very tough conditions for pitchers.”
Guerra said he feels fine physically, and won’t be bothered by a fifth day of rest between starts.
“Sometimes I think too much on the mound and about the batter. I have to work on that, not thinking too much,” he said. “Thank God (the season) will be here in a week, so it’s about trying to start the season on the right foot.”
NOTES: Cleveland OF Michael Brantley batted second and went 2 for 3 with a walk as he tries to ready himself for opening day. Brantley played the first of three straight games to determine his physical status for the opener. ... Brewers 2B Scooter Gennett was claimed off waivers by Cincinnati. Gennett, who hit .316 in 38 at-bats this spring, had been in the Milwaukee organization since being drafted in 2009. He’s been in the majors since 2013, making him one of the team’s longest-tenured players. ... 1B Jesus Aguilar, who hit a three-run homer, was informed after the game that he will make Milwaukee’s opening day roster. The 26-year-old Aguilar is batting .463 with six home runs this spring and will begin a season in the majors for the first time. “He’s a player that we’re interested in,” Counsell said. “The challenge now is to really find a role for him as we get started here, and I think it’s important that we do.”