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GOODYEAR, Ariz. — Shelley Duncan is picking up where he left off last year for the Cleveland Indians.
Duncan hit his second three-run homer in three games to lead the Indians to a 3-2 win over a Kansas City Royals split squad on Tuesday.
“He’s a bat that at any moment can pop one out,” Indians manager Manny Acta said of Duncan, who had seven homers and 23 RBIs in 26 games in September.
Duncan homered in the third inning off reliever Zach Miner, who is working his way back from Tommy John surgery in 2010.
Starter Will Smith and Noel Arguelles each worked two scoreless innings for the Royals. Irving Falu, who has 17 homers in eight years in the minors, hit a two-run shot for Kansas City.
Duncan has had plenty of power in the minors yet is still seeking a steady job in Cleveland.
He has hit 203 homers in 12 years as a pro — only 22 in parts of five seasons at the big-league level with the New York Yankees and Indians.
With Grady Sizemore sidelined at least two months following back surgery, there’s an opening in the Indians outfield.
Acta isn’t even looking for somebody to match Sizemore’s Gold Glove-caliber defense, but is eager to get some right-handed production for a predominantly left-handed lineup that struggled to score last season.
“Every guy in the big leagues can play left field,” Acta said. “How well (can Duncan), we’ll see. Defense is very important to us because we have a staff of contact pitchers. But at times, you have to give up defense for some offense because scoring has been an issue here.”
Kevin Slowey worked two scoreless innings in his Indians debut. Acquired from Colorado in January after being dealt to the Rockies by Minnesota in December, the 27-year-old is looking to bounce back from an 0-8 season with a 6.67 ERA last year for the Twins.
“It’s tough to assess much over two innings, but I threw all my pitches and felt fine,” Slowey said.
Bench coach Chino Cadahia managed the Royals and liked what he saw from all his pitchers, especially hard-throwing reliever Jeremy Jeffress.
Jeffress, part of the trade that sent former Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke to Milwaukee after the 2010 season, struck out one over one scoreless inning.
“He’s got a big fastball and can play a big role for us,” Cadahia said. “They all threw well. Zach had that one (homer) that got away, but he threw free and easy.”
Notes: Indians RHP Chris Perez, sidelined with a left oblique strain, played catch in his first baseball activity since being hurt Feb 24. “I played catch, no big deal,” the All-Star closer said after making 45 throws from 60 feet. ... Sizemore returned to Indians camp and began rehab. He had surgery for a herniated disc on Friday. ... Falu, Billy Butler and Brayan Pena each had two of the Royals’ 10 hits. ... Royals right fielder Wil Myers made a nice diving catch of a liner hit by Jason Donald in the first inning. ... Acta took note of veteran INF Cristian Guzman, in camp as a non-roster invitee. “He’s already set a record,” said Acta, who managed Guzman in Washington. “Sometimes it takes him two months to get two walks. He’s got two in two games.”