GOODYEAR, Ariz. (AP) - Carlos Santana got thrown out, then chewed out.
Cleveland's catcher was scolded by manager Manny Acta for sliding headfirst into home plate in the first inning of the Indians' 2-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday.
Attempting to score from second after left fielder Tony Gwynn Jr. kicked away a single by Austin Kearns, Santana never hesitated as he rounded third and headed home. As he approached the plate, Cleveland's dugout braced for a potential collision between Santana and Dodgers catcher Rod Barajas that never happened.
That's because Santana made a dive and his hand was expertly blocked by Barajas' foot.
Once he got back to the dugout, Santana ``got an earful' from Acta, who said the club instructs its players to slide feet first into the plate to lessen their chances of being injured.
``It never ends,' Acta said. ``You keep preaching it and guys still do it. It's not a very good thing to do.'
On the plus side, Santana didn't get hurt.
Last season, he sustained a severe knee injury when he got bowled over by Boston's Ryan Kalish while blocking the plate at Fenway Park. Santana tore a ligament on the play and underwent surgery. The Indians were hoping the injury wouldn't make Santana timid and take away his aggressiveness.
That doesn't seem to be a problem.
``He had no fear,' Acta said, ``which is good.'
Indians starter Carlos Carrasco pitched two scoreless innings and combined with four relievers on a two-hitter. Carrasco, who was impressive after being called up from the minors late last season, has already earned a spot in Cleveland's rotation.
Acta likes what he sees in Carrasco, who came over from Philadelphia in the 2009 trade for Cliff Lee.
``If you grade his four pitches, all of them have a chance to be above average,' Acta said.
Dodgers right-hander Chad Billingsley, projected as the No. 2 or No. 3 starter for first-year manager Don Mattingly, worked three scoreless innings. He gave up three singles, struck out three and walked none.
One of Billingsley's goals this spring is to sharpen a changeup that has been steadily improving. He threw a few to the Indians and liked the results.
``Since I've been in pro ball, I've always wanted to incorporate a changeup as a main pitch, a go-to pitch in certain situations,' said Billingsley, a 13-game winner last season. ``It could be something that takes me over the top and makes me a little better.'
With the Dodgers' rotation basically set, Billingsley said the team's starters can work on perfecting pitches and not worry about job security.
``We have a lot of experience on this staff,' he said. ``We all can make each other better.'
Orlando Cabrera's RBI double in the fourth gave Cleveland a 1-0 lead, and Jerry Sands tied it in the seventh with a long homer to left.
Cleveland scored the decisive run in the bottom of the inning, when Ezequiel Carrera scored from third on Roman Colon's wild pitch.
Notes: The Indians signed reliever Chad Durbin, who spent the past three seasons with the Phillies. ``He makes us better and that's what it's all about,' Acta said of Durbin, who pitched for Cleveland in 2003 and 2004. ``He has pitched very important innings for a team that has been in the playoffs the last few years. It gives us a good go-to guy in the middle innings.' ... Indians utilityman Shelley Duncan has been sidelined the past few days after pulling a back muscle swinging in the batting cages. He should be back soon.
The Associated Press News Service
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