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Spring Training Roundup

Today's shining example of kinesiology in action comes courtesy of Cliff Lee, who's been doing what it takes to prepare for the 2008 season.

Lee, whose contract status could make him a favorite to win the fifth spot, hopes his days of playing catch-up are behind him. While abdominal strains are fluky, he's made a concerted effort to prevent another one by doing as many extra sit-ups as his body can muster.

And just in case the sit-ups don't work, he'll have to locate his pitches better, especially if he doesn't alter his pitching mentality.

But in '07, Lee struggled to move the fastball in and out of the zone. His insistence on using that pitch came back to bite him.

"That's his aggressive nature, going right after guys," Willis said. "It's hard to find a happy medium, because you never want to take away a guy's aggressiveness."

Lee is the favorite to be the Indians' fifth starter by virtue of his guaranteed contract, although there is a limit to the Indians' patience. What worked in 2005 isn't necesarily going to work in 2008: unless a pitcher is blessed with unhittable stuff, hitters will eventually catch onto your patterns. And if you can't locate the one pitch you rely on, well, 2007 happens.    

Masa Kobayashi made his Spring Training debut on Friday, and the batters that faced him came away impressed - if that means anything:

"I saw his two-seam fastball, his four-seam and his slider," Blake said. "He seemed to have good location."


"It looks like he's deceptive and he has pretty good control," said Michaels.

Probably the most interesting story of Spring Training, though, is the resumption of a long-simmering feud between Casey Blake and Travis Hafner. The feud, strangely enough, surfaces only in Spring Training, when stories are sparse. This year's point of contention: talking on the cell phone.

He still bickers with teammate Casey Blake on subjects ranging from car pooling to dogs. An example: Hafner and Blake usually drive to Chain of Lakes Park together every morning in spring training.

"I can't take this anymore," said Hafner. "He's getting a cab. I give him a ride, and he's on his cell phone all the time. I can't listen to the radio, and I can't talk to him."

Hafner, seemingly plotting revenge, said he's trained his 20-pound Australian terrier, Rudi, to attack Blake.

"The dog tried to bite my pinky toe," said an unconcerned Blake. "When we first got down here, I'd send my girls over to walk it. They're 4 and 6 so what does that tell you about the dog?"