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GRAPEFRUIT LEAGUE ROUNDUP | Sunday's games


Published: Mon, March 27, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.


Indians 9, Reds 4
WINTER HAVEN, Fla. -- Danny Graves has a new look and a totally different outlook. With a mop of highlighted hair tumbling to the top of his shoulders, Graves struggled through his one inning against the team that cast him aside last season. It was the first shaky appearance this spring for Graves, who is competing with Steve Karsay for a spot in the Indians' bullpen. "I've pitched well enough that if, unfortunately, I don't make the team here, I'll have a chance somewhere else," Graves said. "My performance has been the best I've had in any spring."Graves' career bottomed out on an ugly afternoon in Cincinnati last May, when he got jeered after another poor performance and made an obscene hand gesture to one unrelenting fan. The Reds cut their ties with him a day later, citing his 7.36 ERA. The Mets gave him another chance, but he had a 5.75 ERA in 20 appearances and was released. Finally, the Indians offered him a minor league contract in December, a chance to resurrect his career with the organization that drafted him.He has grown his hair, added tattoos and gotten the bite back on his sinker, his most indispensable pitch. "I feel like I'm back to normal, more mentally than anything," Graves said. "I feel more like a baseball player again. All I wanted was the opportunity to play again. This was the perfect spot. So far, everything is working out well."Manager Eric Wedge said Graves pitched better than the numbers showed. "He was down in the strike zone today and threw a couple good sinkers and a couple good breaking balls."Karsay allowed a pair of hits in a scoreless third inning. Graves followed and retired the first two batters on six pitches. Then the inning went bad. Austin Kearns hit a wind-blown homer to right, the first of four consecutive hits that accounted for three runs.The Indians scored six runs off left-hander Brandon Claussen, who lasted four innings. Grady Sizemore had a two-run double, and Travis Hafner hit a wind-blown homer to right. Sizemore later drove in another run with his fifth triple of the spring.
Blue Jays 9, Pirates 8
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Left-hander Zach Duke had another rough outing by giving up eight runs, seven earned, and 11 hits over four-plus innings and Toronto overcame six homers by the Pirates.Vernon Wells doubled twice among three hits and drove in two runs to help the Blue Jays hold on after opening an 8-4 lead in the fourth. Starting pitcher Ted Lilly got the victory despite allowing five homers -- consecutive homers by Jason Bay and Craig Wilson in both the first and fifth innings and Chris Duffy's two-run shot.All those homers weren't enough for Duke, who finished fifth in the NL rookie of the year voting after going 8-2 with a 1.81 ERA in 14 games and winning a combined 20 games in the NL and Triple-A last year. He's found it a little rougher this spring, with two starts in which he has yielded five or more runs, an 0-3 record and a 7.71 ERA."I always expect those kind of results I had last year and I never accept an outing like this was good," Duke said. "It's not in my character. I always expect the best in myself and, when I don't get results, I get upset with myself."Duke didn't show any frustration on the mound, but it was obvious afterward he is glad he has one more spring start to smooth out the mistakes from Sunday's outing."I was battling myself all day and, as soon as I would start to feel good, I would get out of my rhythm and leave a pitch off the plate," Duke said. "But I feel like I know what I did. I feel like I know what I have to do to fix it."Manager Jim Tracy wasn't happy that second baseman Jose Castillo's error on an apparent inning-ending double play grounder led to a three-run Toronto first inning, making Duke's start look worse than it really was."The kid was still battling and he never broke down," Tracy said. "He's a young, mature pitcher who was still out there making pitches. He'll have more good days than bad days because he gets it. It happens to the best of them, and he'll do just fine."
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Left-hander Zach Duke had another rough outing by giving up eight runs, seven earned, and 11 hits over four-plus innings and Toronto overcame six homers by the Pirates.Vernon Wells doubled twice among three hits and drove in two runs to help the Blue Jays hold on after opening an 8-4 lead in the fourth. Starting pitcher Ted Lilly got the victory despite allowing five homers -- consecutive homers by Jason Bay and Craig Wilson in both the first and fifth innings and Chris Duffy's two-run shot.All those homers weren't enough for Duke, who finished fifth in the NL rookie of the year voting after going 8-2 with a 1.81 ERA in 14 games and winning a combined 20 games in the NL and Triple-A last year. He's found it a little rougher this spring, with two starts in which he has yielded five or more runs, an 0-3 record and a 7.71 ERA."I always expect those kind of results I had last year and I never accept an outing like this was good," Duke said. "It's not in my character. I always expect the best in myself and, when I don't get results, I get upset with myself."Duke didn't show any frustration on the mound, but it was obvious afterward he is glad he has one more spring start to smooth out the mistakes from Sunday's outing."I was battling myself all day and, as soon as I would start to feel good, I would get out of my rhythm and leave a pitch off the plate," Duke said. "But I feel like I know what I did. I feel like I know what I have to do to fix it."Manager Jim Tracy wasn't happy that second baseman Jose Castillo's error on an apparent inning-ending double play grounder led to a three-run Toronto first inning, making Duke's start look worse than it really was."The kid was still battling and he never broke down," Tracy said. "He's a young, mature pitcher who was still out there making pitches. He'll have more good days than bad days because he gets it. It happens to the best of them, and he'll do just fine."
Associated Press


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