GOODYEAR, Ariz. — Prior to camp, general manager Chris Antonetti said right-hander Zach McAllister had a leg up on the competition for one of the final two spots in the Indians’ rotation.
The vote of confidence from the GM is nice, but McAllister doesn’t plan on leaving anything up to chance.
“Mind-set wise is about the the only thing that changes for me (this spring),” said McAllister, who didn’t allow a hit and struck two over two innings of his exhibition debut Sunday. “Every year is almost the same, but I’m coming in this year with more of an edge to me, ready to compete. I really want to get after it this spring.”
McAllister, 25, got after it at times during a rookie season in which he went 6-8 with a 4.24 ERA in 22 starts. He became a fixture in Cleveland’s rotation over the second half of the season.
“I think for me just knowing that I have to be able to use all of my pitches,” said McAllister, when asked what he learned last season. “I think early on, I was able to get away with my fastball quite a bit.
“That’s one of my strengths. I’m going to stick with it, but there’s certain hitters that you just can’t go to your fastball. You have to trust your other stuff, and that’s something I was able to learn as the season went on.”
Manager Terry Francona is just getting to know the 6-foot-6, 240-pound McAllister, but he likes what he’s seen and heard so far.
“I’ve heard so much good,” Francona said. “I feel like every time I walk in he grows. He’s so big. Getting some feedback from hitters is that when he lets go of the ball it feels like he’s right on top of you. That’s not a good feeling for a hitter, and then you add the good arm to boot.
“He’s got a tremendous amount of poise for a young kid, really competes. There’s a reason we like him this much. There’s a lot of reasons.”
Relievers Chris Perez and Vinnie Pestano will leave the team Sunday to being training with Team USA for the upcoming World Baseball Classic. Both will pitch in one of their squad’s two exhibition games and then stay with Team USA until their pool opens WBC play, March 7 at Arizona’s Chase Field.
“We originally talked about them coming back here,” Francona said. “We want them to enjoy the whole experience. They’re both honored to be on Team USA. Let them go enjoy the whole thing.”
Once play opens, Francona has been assured that Perez and Pestano will only pitch one inning per appearance, and not on consecutive days.
“We’re not concerned with them over-using our guys,” Francona said. “They’ve been very up front about taking care of our guys.”
Carlos Carrasco is scheduled to pitch a simulated game today in Goodyear.
The right-hander was roughed up in his exhibition debut Sunday, failing to last the prescribed two innings after allowing four runs on four hits and a walk in one inning.
Let them play
Francona was asked what he thought about Cardinals manager Mike Matheny’s assertion that collisions at home plate should be banned. Matheny is a former big league catcher.
“First off, let me preface it by saying how much respect I have for Mike,” Francona said. “I do not agree. I don’t think people have thought it through enough. You’re going to get more baserunners injured. The game’s going to fast. You’ve just gotta let guys play.
“As an organization, if you want your (catcher) to move, (fine). It’s unfortunate when a catcher gets hurt, but it’s kind of part of the game. I guess every organization can do what they choose. I don’t think you can ever institute a rule.”
Francona said he instructs his catchers to block the plate.
The Indians have history with home plate collisions and subsequent injuries. Carlos Santana required knee surgery after a collision with Boston’s Ryan Kalish at Fenway Park in 2010.
Cleveland entered Wednesday leading the majors with 49 runs, 10 home runs, 44 RBIs, 22 doubles and an OPS of .937. … Today, 3:05 p.m. vs. Texas at Surprise Stadium (Surprise, Ariz.). McAllister (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Holland (0-0, 3.00).