GOODYEAR, Ariz. (AP) - Carlos Santana and Shin-Soo Choo combined for five hits as the middle of Cleveland's lineup looks ready to start the season.
Cleveland rookie Cord Phelps tripled in the winning run with none out in the ninth inning for an 8-7 win over the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday.
Manager Manny Acta was more pleased with seeing Santana slide headfirst for a triple, steal a base and get two hits. The catcher had surgery on his left knee in August.
``First thing I thought was, 'Nice surgery,'' Acta said. ``I know Choo was impressed. He turned and said, 'I've never seen a five-tool catcher.' Santana played first base as part of Acta's plan to keep the young slugger's legs fresh with an occasional move there.
Choo, hitting .311 after getting three hits, and cleanup man Santana were among several injured Cleveland pitchers a year ago. Leadoff man Grady Sizemore won't be ready for the season, though he is progressing from microfracture knee surgery in June. No. 2 hitter Asdrubal Cabrera is hitting .400 and playing well at shortstop. He missed six weeks in 2010 with a broken left forearm.
Both Acta and Royals manager Ned Yost are searching for more relief. Each got mixed results.
Sean O'Sullivan, the Royals' long reliever earlier this week, gave up four runs in the eighth and ninth.
Homers by Alcides Escobar and Kila Ka'aihue helped Kansas City to a 7-4 lead. O'Sullivan allowed three runs in the eighth after Tim Collins, Louis Coleman and Aaron Crow held Cleveland to one run over the middle 4 1-3 innings.
Four Cleveland relievers yielded one run after starter Carlos Carrasco gave up six over 4 1-3 innings.
``Carlos was up in the zone a bit, but has pitched pretty well overall,' Acta said. ``We expect big things from this guy.'
Carrasco was part of the trade that sent 2008 Cy Young winner Cliff Lee to Philadelphia in July 2009.
Escobar, a slick-fielding shortstop acquired from Milwaukee as part of the trade for 2009 Cy Young winner Zack Greinke this offseason, has four homers and a .372 average. Ka'aihue's fifth homer and three hits put him at .400.
Acta was not overjoyed that veteran Doug Mathis, a non-roster invitee, walked four in two scoreless innings.
``When (relievers) come in, the game is usually on the line and whether (walks) come around or not, you can't pitch like that,' Acta said.
Mathis is battling four other right-handers for three bullpen spots. Justin Germano, Frank Herrmann and rookie Vinnie Pestano appear leading the race. Jess Todd has a 1.35 ERA and is in the mix with less than a week to go.
Rookie Nate Adcock gave up his first runs, but still hopes to go from Class A ball to the Royals bullpen.
``I didn't have my best stuff, but kept battling,' Adcock said after allowing three runs over two-plus innings. ``I made some adjustments and did better. I'm excited by this chance.'
Claimed in the Rule 5 Draft from Pittsburgh, Adcock cannot be sent to the minors without first being offered back to the Pirates.
Lefty Tim Collins fanned two in 1 1-3 innings. Generously listed at 5-foot-7, the 21-year-old has struck out 11 in 9 1-3 innings with a 2.89 ERA.
``I feel good about my chances,' said Collins, who has 329 strikeouts and allowed only 141 hits in 223 minor league innings. ``I'm staying aggressive. These guys are good, but now I know I can compete.'
NOTES: Acta said Sizemore will DH in a minor-league game Thursday. The plan is to have Sizemore bat second in every inning until he gets five times at bat. ... Royals RHP Kyle Davis went home to Atlanta for the birth of his first son, Conner. ... Indians SS Adam Everett played for the first time since straining his left thumb Saturday.
The Associated Press News Service
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