October 20, 2014

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Indians notes: Inexperienced rotation off to struggling start

CLEVELAND — It’s one start into the regular season, but four members of the Indians’ inexperienced rotation — right-handers Corey Kluber, Zach McAllister, Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco — displayed a lack of command in their debut outings.

Kluber started the second game of the year and was roughed up for five earned runs on eight hits and three walks over just three innings. McAllister followed Kluber and surrendered three runs on six hits and four walks in four innings. Salazar struggled early in the home opener Friday, allowing two first-inning runs before settling in.

Still, he allowed the two runs on seven hits and three walks over 5 2/3 innings. Carrasco joined the club Saturday, allowing four earned runs on seven hits, two walks and two hit batters over 5 2/3 innings.

But manager Terry Francona says his rotation’s less-than-pin-point accuracy isn’t an issue at this point.

“As far as concerning about trying to win the game, yes, it made it harder,” Francona said. “But as far as them moving forward, no. They’re good pitchers that for whatever reasons, they weren’t throwing their fastball where they wanted to and it created tough innings for them. They gave up some runs and had deep pitch counts. I don’t think that’s going to be the norm.

“We obviously want to get better as we go. It gives our team a better chance to win.”

Salazar, 24, is the youngest in a rotation that doesn’t include a pitcher over 29. He is confident things will improve for him and his rotation mates.

“I know this year, we’re going to be good,” Salazar said. “We’re going to win some games.”

Wounded Wahoos

Michael Bourn (left hamstring strain) was scheduled to begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Columbus on Saturday after his first two tries with the Clippers were rained out. Bourn was eligible to leave the disabled list Saturday and will most likely be activated early next week.

Jason Giambi (rib fracture) is eligible for activation April 14. He told reporters Saturday that he would DH in a minor league rehab game for either Double-A Akron or Columbus, take a day off, then DH again before leaving the DL.

My guy

Born in Columbus, Nick Swisher said he attended a few games at Jacobs/Progressive Field, but was too young to remember. He was able to recall his favorite Indians player from the 1990s — Jim Thome.

“Talk about an iconic figure on and off the field,” Swisher said of Thome, who is still Cleveland’s all-time home run hitter (337). “I know we have the statue coming for big Jim and I can’t wait to see it. It’s well-deserved. He did so much for this city. We’re glad to be able to represent him and for him to represent us.”

Early returns

Two of the Indians’ biggest offensive weapons — second baseman Jason Kipnis and shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera — are off to slow starts.

Kipnis, who signed a six-year contract extension Friday worth $52.5 million, is batting just .176 (3-for-17) and is without an RBI over his first five games. He endured a rough April last year but wound up making the all-star team for the first time in his career, while leading the Indians in a number of offensive categories.

Cabrera, who hit a career-low .242 last year, is batting .167 (3-for-18) with an RBI over five games. The two-time all-star is in a contract year with much to lose should he experience another down season.

Roundin’ third

  • The Indians’ loss to the Twins snapped a streak of seven straight wins against Minnesota dating back to last year.
  • It was Twins manager Ron Gardenhire’s 1,000th career victory. He joins a list that includes Francona of five active managers — Buck Showalter (Orioles), Mike Scioscia (Angels) and Bruce Bochy (Giants) — to have reached the milestone.

Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him @CAwesomeheimer on Twitter.

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