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Tribe Notes

Tribe notes: Sloppy Indians fall to Mariners at Goodyear Ballpark

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    Seattle Mariners first baseman Danny Valencia, right, makes the catch at first base for an out just ahead of Cleveland Indians third baseman Yandy Diaz, left, getting to the base during the third inning of a spring training baseball game Wednesday in Goodyear, Ariz.



GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- After watching his team play sloppily in the field Wednesday during a 7-4 loss to the Mariners at Goodyear Ballpark, manager Terry Francona was thankful it didn’t count.   

“That was one of those games where you’re glad it’s spring training, so you can sleep,” said Francona, whose team committed two errors on the day and managed just a run through six innings. “We missed cutoff men, we didn’t execute a run down, throw to the wrong base. It was just one of those days that ... we’ll talk to the guys (today) and it’ll give us something to teach. It gives us a reason to talk to them.”

Right-hander Trevor Bauer started for the Indians (2-2-1), tossing three scoreless innings -- four hits, one strikeout -- in his exhibition debut.

“I don’t think he walked anybody and he had to climb back into a bunch of counts, so because he was pitching behind, there was some hard contact,” Francona said. “But I thought the ball came out of his hand good ... it was his first outing. He went three and he got through them. He threw some good splits, which I know he wanted to.”

The Indians got a surprising offensive lift from Michael Martinez, who is likely to open the season as the utility infielder after making the final out of last year’s World Series.

Martinez, 34, had two hits, including a solo home run, and three RBIs. He has four hits in 10 at-bats this spring.

“He always comes ready. You don’t want to penalize someone for being ready,” Francona said. “He’s gotten pitches in the zone and he’s had really good at-bats, and he’s reliable defensively. He’s an easy guy to pull for. We all know that. He’s such a good teammate and even with not a ton of experience, he makes guys better on the bench.” 

Learning curve

Left-hander Ryan Merritt made his major league debut last year, logging 11 innings (four games/one start) before his well-documented ALCS Game 5 outing that helped the Indians clinch the AL title.

That little experience could go a long way for Merritt this season, according to Francona.   

“When you see guys come up and get a little bit of experience the year before, generally they show up the next spring and they look stronger,” Francona said. “Sometimes they get stronger, but some of it too is just they feel like they belong a little more. They know where they’re going, they’ve kind of been there and done it, even if it’s in small samples.

“For him, I think that’s ... OK, he made a start in Kansas City where he kind of clutched up, then he goes into Toronto and kind of makes a start out of the blue that kind of blows everybody away. Now he goes home, he does get stronger, but it just looks more than that. Even though, it was however many innings of experience, that can really go a long way.”

Merritt, 25, went 11-8 with a 3.70 ERA in 24 starts last year for Triple-A Columbus, where he is expected to open the season and provide starting depth for the big league team.

He pitched 1 1/3 innings Wednesday, allowing five runs and the Mariners to take the lead in the sixth inning.    

Boone bit

The Indians paid substantial money (one-year, $6.5 million) to acquire relief pitcher Boone Logan and are expecting big things from the left-handed match-up specialist. 

“I think Boone’s definitely going to make us better,” bullpen mate Andrew Miller said. “He’s a veteran. He’s been around as long as just about anybody who’s pitched in our bullpen these days. He’s going to bring experience. He’s going to bring reliability to us. I think there’s no way he doesn’t make us better.”

Logan, a 10-year veteran, has been highly effective against left-handed hitters throughout his career, limiting them to a .233 batting average. While pitching for the Rockies last year -- 33 appearances at hitter-friendly Coors Field -- Logan held lefties to a .222 average over 66 games.

Quote of the day

“A clubhouse is a pretty special place,” Francona said. “I actually think the real world could learn a lot coming into a clubhouse. You see people of every color, nationality and, if you have the same uniform, everybody’s equal.”

Roundin’ third

Michael Brantley (right shoulder) was scheduled to take batting practice on the field for the second time Wednesday. There is still no target date for Brantley’s exhibition debut. ... Today, 3:05 p.m. vs. Dodgers at Glendale’s Camelback Ranch. Salazar (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Clayton Kershaw (0-0, 0.00 ERA). No television or radio coverage.

Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or Like him on Facebook and follow him @CAwesomeheimer on Twitter.

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