Reliever Albers gets rare start vs. Royals

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- One of baseball's long-standing traditions is that starting pitchers typically do not speak to reporters before a game on the day of their scheduled outing. It is not often that a reliever gets to take advantage of this aspect of clubhouse culture.

Matt Albers was reminded of the unwritten rule on Tuesday morning.

"Yeah, that's right," Albers said with a laugh. "I might exercise that right."

For Tuesday's game against Kansas City, Albers was given the ball as Cleveland's starter on a day designed for the team's relievers. Indians manager Terry Francona said Albers got the nod because he felt the pitcher had the ability to stay with his normal approach, even in unusual circumstances.

Albers and right-hander Bryan Shaw were among the relievers who appeared in the Cactus League tilt against the Royals. Both pitchers were acquired from the D-backs on Dec. 11 as part of the nine-player, three-team trade that involved the Reds, and also brought pitcher Trevor Bauer and outfielder Drew Stubbs to the Tribe.

Albers, who is out of Minor League options, is a leading candidate for a spot in Cleveland's bullpen. Shaw is also in the running for one of the few available relief roles, along with the likes of Cody Allen, Frank Herrmann, Nick Hagadone, David Huff, Scott Barnes and Matt Capps, among others.

Albers allowed one run on two hits with one walk and a strikeout in his lone inning of work against the Royals on Tuesday. Shaw also gave up one run in one inning of relief for the Tribe.

"I like the fact that he'll take the ball every day," Francona said of Albers, who pitched for the manager in Boston in 2011. "He can almost survive on one pitch, which is his two-seamer. When it's good, it's got so much life in the zone. But he's durable. Shaw's got that cutter that really has a chance to be a pretty explosive pitch."

Last season, the 30-year-old Albers worked in 63 games between stints with the Red Sox and D-backs, who landed the righty in a July 31 trade with Boston. Albers went 3-1 and posted a 2.39 ERA over 60 1/3 innings, during which he compiled 44 strikeouts and 22 walks.

Shaw had a 3.49 ERA with 41 strikeouts in 64 games for Arizona last season.

"I was excited to be able to come over here," Albers said. "Especially after I saw they made a couple moves, and then later in the offseaso they made even more moves. It was exciting. Coming here with Shaw, knowing him and a couple other guys.

"I've kind of been through the team-changing [process], so I'm kind of used to meeting guys and getting acclimated. I think it's going well here so far. I think I'm fitting in pretty good."