Friday, Apr 20, 2018
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Tigers nip Indians in 10


Cleveland's Grady Sizemore watches his second home run off Detroit's Yorman Bazardo in the third inning at Winter Haven.

Tony Dejak / AP Enlarge

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. - Grady Sizemore homered twice and Cliff Lee pitched three scoreless innings, but the Cleveland Indians lost 4-2 in 10 innings to a Detroit Tigers split squad yesterday.

Jeff Larish drove in three runs for Detroit, two on a tiebreaking single in the 10th.

Lee, competing with fellow left-handers Jeremy Sowers and Aaron Laffey for the No. 5 spot in the Indians' rotation, allowed two hits. He escaped a bases-loaded jam in the second by throwing a slider on the inside corner for a called third strike against Curtis Granderson.

"I just tried to make my pitches and felt good," Lee said. "I don't think about being in a battle for a job. That's a question for [manager Eric] Wedge. If I had anything to do with it, I'd just say the job is mine."

Josh Barfield had three singles for the Indians.

Larish, a first baseman who had 28 homers and 101 RBIs last season at Double-A Erie, came in hitless in 12 at-bats this spring before going 2-for-4. He tied the score at 2 with a sacrifice fly in the eighth inning and lined his go-ahead hit in the 10th off Scott Elarton.

"He can swing the bat," said Tigers manager Jim Leyland, who was more impressed with his pitchers holding the AL Central rival Indians scoreless except for Sizemore.

"He hit two long homers, but nobody was on so I don't have a real problem with that," Leyland said. "Sizemore's one of the best and Cleveland's got a great lineup."

Sizemore homered both times he faced Tigers starter Yorman Bazardo. His 2-for-3 performance gave him a .500 (7-for-14) spring average.

"I'm still a work in progress as a hitter," said Sizemore, an all-star the past two seasons who added he'd like to cut down his strikeouts and draw even more walks than the career-high 101 he had in 2007.

He also fanned 155 times last season, giving him 440 over the past three years, an alarming total for a leadoff batter.

"I don't go up looking for walks. I look for a good pitch to hit," Sizemore said. "If I have a good at-bat and strike out, I can live with it. I want to cut out the strikeouts where I don't have a good approach."

Notes: Tigers RHP Denny Bautista fanned four over two scoreless innings. ... In a morning intrasquad game, Indians minor league OF Brad Snyder homered on the first pitch from 2007 AL Cy Young Award winner C.C. Sabathia, who didn't allow another baserunner in two innings. ... Leyland said he's impressed with the talent and poise of RHP Rick Porcello, last year's No. 1 pick who has a 1.59 ERA in three spring outings.


LAKELAND, Fla. - Carlos Guillen hit his fourth home run of the spring and Detroit overcame Dontrelle Willis' wild outing, beating Cincinnati in a split-squad game.

Willis walked four in 21/3 innings, allowing one run and two hits. He struck out three.

Acquired from Florida in a blockbuster trade this offseason, the left-hander said he was testing out his pitches and just trying to get ready for the season.

"I was just missing and trying to stay aggressive," Willis said. "My command has to be a lot better. It's going to be fine."

Ivan Rodriguez, Scott Sizemore and Brent Clevlen also homered.

Gary Sheffield returned to the lineup after missing four games with leg cramps and went 0-for-3 as the designated hitter.

Jason Grilli replaced Willis in the third and yielded one hit in 22/3 scoreless innings.

"It was cool to show Dontrelle that he can have confidence in me," Grilli said. "My job is to stop the bleeding and I think I have done a good job of that for two years now."

Grilli was 5-3 with a 4.74 ERA in 57 games last year, his second straight with more than 50 appearances. He has been working on his backdoor slider, and he put away touted prospect Jay Bruce with one of them.

With Joel Zumaya sidelined for at least the first half of the season, and Fernando Rodney's arm in question, Grilli said he hears the doubts from Detroit fans about the team's bullpen.

"People need to find something wrong, but we have Zach Miner, me, Tim Byrdak and Bobby Seay, and when Rodney is healthy, he'll be back," Grilli said.

"People also forget about Todd Jones. We have a closer with more than 300 career saves and everybody forgets that. I think the entire bullpen wants everybody to have to eat some crow."

The Tigers scored three runs in the second off starter Matt Maloney, a non-roster invitee. The Reds closed to 5-4 in the ninth, but Detroit reliever Aquilino Lopez held off a late rally.

Notes: Neither manager was in Lakeland for the game. Detroit skipper Jim Leyland was in Winter Haven for a split-squad game against the Indians. Hitting coach Lloyd McClendon ran the Tigers. Cincinnati's Dusty Baker was in Sarasota taking on the Houston Astros.

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