Indians beat Rockies

7:46 PM, Mar 4, 2011   |    comments
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Choo's sights are set on another prize - for him and the Cleveland Indians.

"Playoffs," he said. "That's it. Nothing else."

Limited to a DH role so far this spring because of a sore left elbow, Choo returned to right field for the first time in an exhibition game and reported no problems after playing five innings Friday in the Indians' 6-2 win over the Colorado Rockies.

"I'm not 100 percent, but I still have three more weeks left to get ready for the season," Choo said. "It's still getting better."

Choo's elbow began bothering him late last week, so much so that the Indians had him undergo an MRI exam to make sure there was no structural damage. He rested his arm for a few days before he resumed throwing drills that increased in distance each day.

In his first Cactus League action, he hardly tested his arm, throwing a one-hopper to the cutoff man on Jonathan Herrera's third-inning triple. Manager Manny Acta was pleased to see Choo hold back and not risk hurting his elbow by rifling the ball too hard.

"There's no need for it," Acta said. "That's called maturity, experience."

The Indians lost 93 games last season, and most preseason prognostications have the baseball's youngest team finishing at or near the bottom of the AL Central. Choo isn't buying the dire predictions, and believes the Indians are good enough to make the postseason.

"We have a good offense and we have good pitching, too," he said. "In baseball, you never know. Most people say we are a last-place team, but you never know. Nobody thought San Francisco would be champions."

Acta loves hearing that talk from one of his stars.

"That's our expectation," he said. "If not, we would have just gone home. Why waste our time? That's our expectation and as long as we're expecting that, we're fine with what everyone else expects."

Orlando Cabrera hit an RBI triple and scored on a throwing error in Cleveland's first off Colorado starter Jhoulys Chacin, who was tagged for five hits in three innings.

Chad Huffman and Lonnie Chisenhall homered for Cleveland. Indians starter Fausto Carmona struck out two in three innings.

Playing several Double-A level minor leaguers in the late innings, the Rockies made five errors.

"We threw the ball around," Colorado manager Jim Tracy said. "That's to be expected [with kids]."

The Indians' hope, and they've been in this situation many times before, is to sign Choo to a multiyear contract before he can leave as a free agent after the 2013 season. In January, they avoided salary arbitration and signed Choo to a one-year, $3,975,000 contract.

Choo's under the Indians' control for this season and two more, but the club would like to lock up the 28-year-old beyond that. General manager Chris Antonetti has talked about a contract with Choo's agent, Scott Boras, but the sides have kept the negotiations private.

Choo has said little about his contract status this spring, and has indicated he will not talk about his situation once the regular season starts.

"I don't know if my agent and the Indians have talked about it," said Choo, the only AL player last season to hit .300 with 20 homers and 20 steals. "My focus is on playing this year."

NOTES: An overheated clothes dryer caused a small fire at Goodyear Ballpark. Acta knew something was up when he arrived in the morning. "On my way in, I saw all the police cars and a helicopter," he said. "My first thought was it was an escapee from jail." ... Rockies DH Jason Giambi went 2-for-3 with an RBI. ... Indians RHP Carlos Carrasco went home to Florida for the birth of a child. ... Chisenhall had three hits, is batting .500 and is making a case to be on Cleveland's opening day roster. "It's happened before," Acta said.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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