Allen's work pays off with spot in Tribe bullpen

Allen's work pays off with spot in Tribe bullpen

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Given Cody Allen's swift rise to the big leagues, it seemed fitting that the Indians decided not to wait until the end of camp to hand him a bullpen spot. Cleveland manager Terry Francona gave Allen the good news last week.

"It's a good feeling. It's a relief," Allen said on Saturday. "I worked hard in the offseason, trying to put myself in a position to win a spot out of camp. To know that paid off is great. It's kind of like the first step. You can break camp with the team, but if you don't do what you're supposed to, you won't be there long."

The 24-year-old Allen entered Spring Training as one of many relievers vying for a spot in the Opening Day bullpen. Francona was impressed by the young right-hander early on and wanted to give Allen a chance to focus on preparing for the regular season rather than worrying about the spring competition.

Francona noticed in Allen's outing against the Giants on March 7 that the pitcher was trying too hard. Allen wound up giving up three runs on three hits with one walk and two strikeouts in an uncharacteristic performance.

"He knew he was coming in to compete -- it was very obvious," Francona said. "He was prepared. In the one game, he was competing so much. He had a man on second and two outs, and he was throwing breaking ball after breaking ball after breaking ball."

Following that game, Francona sat down with pitching coach Mickey Callaway and general manager Chris Antonetti, and Allen's appearance was brought up.

"We were like, 'We've got to tell this guy he's on the team,'" Francona said. "We called him in the next morning and I said, 'If we tell you you're on the team. will you just get ready for the season?' He said yeah. It was kind of all in fun."

Last season, Allen soared through Class A (high) Carolina, Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus, posting a 1.87 ERA with 53 strikeouts in 43 1/3 innings en route to a big league promotion. With Cleveland, the righty had a 3.72 ERA with 27 strikeouts and 29 innings in 27 appearances.

"There was nothing that didn't impress us," Francona said of Allen. "There's just so much to like about him. All he needs is experience, and he'll get that quickly."

Allen was happy to receive the news that he will be on the team with three weeks left in the spring schedule.

"It kind of takes the pressure off a little bit," he said. "I can go out there and just work on things I need to work on and not focus on just trying to go get outs. The thing with me is going to be commanding my fastball more consistently early on in the counts. Now I can just go out there in an outing and just throw fastballs, just work on fastball command."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for 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.