On Sunday, Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona said the team was taking a slow approach during the spring with their pitching ace Corey Kluber. That means it remains uncertain if he will be penciled in as the opening day starter for the team.
Last season, Kluber was the Indians workhorse on the mound. He has been the starter for the past two opening games of the season for Cleveland, but Francona is not saying yet if the hard throwing right-hander will be given the nod April 2 when the American League champions face Texas on the road.
Francona told reporters Sunday that coaches told Kluber that since he is being slowed down during spring training that if he was not ready to pitch on opening day the team could adjust.
Francona added that the team is willing to make the adjustments since there is so much at stake over the course of the complete season.
The manager said that everyone knows opening day is very big, but the club wants Kluber to be in a position where he is ready to pitch as many innings as needed by the team.
Last year during the 162-game regular season, Kluber pitched 215 inning and then threw another 34 plus innings during the postseason. He was instrumental in helping the Indians reach the World Series and extend the Chicago Cubs to seven games before losing. During the playoffs, Kluber had to start on reduced rest on three occasions including twice during the World Series.
The plan the Indians have for Kluber is that he pitch simulated games prior to play opening in the Cactus League.
Mickey Callaway the Indians pitching coach has set up a program where Kluber will be ready to pitch in his first outing of spring a total of three innings but that will not be until March 6.
If Kluber starts the Indians season opener, he would join the likes of Justin Masterson, Bartolo Colon, CC Sabathia and Dennis Martinez as the only pitchers for Cleveland over the past 40 years to start in three consecutive season openers.
Last season Kluber finished 18-9 with an ERA of 3.14. He was third in the voting for the AL Cy Young. The ace, who is 30, has a record of 58-44 with an ERA of 3.44 over his six seasons with Cleveland.