Start of Cactus League ramps up Tribe's spring intensity

McAllister opens rotation competition vs. Reds

Start of Cactus League ramps up Tribe's spring intensity

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The theme of workouts for the Indians this spring has been simulating plays at game speed. After two weeks of going through drills, the time has come for Cleveland to transition from the practice diamond to an actual ballpark.

On Tuesday, Indians starter Zach McAllister will take the mound against the Reds in the Tribe's first Cactus League contest of the spring. Cleveland's players are more than ready to take the next step in baseball's annual march toward Opening Day.

"It's been two weeks, but it feels like we've been here a lot longer," Indians catcher Yan Gomes said with a laugh. "Once the game starts, it's almost like things are starting to speed up a little bit and that's when we're getting ready for the season. It's going to be fun to see the competitions that are going to be played out during the spring."

Gomes catches live bullpen

The competition that will draw the most attention this spring for the Indians is the battle for the final spot in the starting rotation. McAllister will get things rolling in that competition with two scheduled innings in the 3:05 p.m. ET contest, available live on MLB.TV and Gameday Audio. The three other primary candidates for the lone starting vacancy include Danny Salazar, T.J. House and Josh Tomlin.

Cleveland's first lineup will feature shortstop Jose Ramirez leading off, followed by Gomes behind the plate, third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall, first baseman Carlos Santana, right fielder David Murphy, second baseman Mike Aviles, designated hitter Tyler Holt, left fielder James Ramsey and center fielder Tyler Naquin.

Bastian on Indians' camp outlook

After McAllister, the Indians plan on giving innings to pitchers Nick Hagadone, Charles Brewer, Bryan Price, Michael Roth and Dustin Molleken.

"The timetable is always pretty much about right," Indians manager Terry Francona said of moving into the Cactus League schedule. "It's good. I think you're going to see the first week, there will be some rust, which is expected. But, as guys get into it, the game will start slowing down a little bit and you'll give some of younger guys some chances to show what they can do, and get some of their nerves out of the way.

"Then we'll start wanting to see some guys compete that are competing, and other guys try to get their game to where they start getting ready for the season. If guys are going to have some rust, it's OK early in the spring."

Chisenhall said he has been pleased with how the players have treated the first two weeks of workouts.

"It's just building off last year," said the third baseman. "We have the majority of our guys back. We added [Brandon Moss] and we added a lot of veteran guys to put into the mix for the 'pen. We know what we're capable of and what we've done in the past, so I'm looking forward to seeing what we can do."

Indians rotation leader Corey Kluber, who will throw a simulated game on Tuesday before making his Cactus League debut on Saturday, said the expectations within the Tribe's clubhouse are high.

"I think you could probably ask everybody in here," Kluber said, "whatever outside expectations are, they're probably less than their expectations for themself anyways. So, I don't think that adds any pressure for me, what other people are expecting. I think I probably hold myself to a higher standard than the outsiders do anyways."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.