ARLINGTON, Texas -- Corey Kluber has earned the nickname "Klubot" thanks to the robotic way he goes about the business of being an elite MLB pitcher.
The legend is that nothing, no matter how peculiar, diverts his attention from the task at hand, whether it be in the weight room or in a bullpen session between starts.
But what transpired Saturday might rate among the more peculiar things Kluber has encountered.
The two-time American League Cy Young winner threw 85 pitches over five innings in a simulated game against some of his Texas Rangers teammates at an empty Globe Life Field. The opposing pitcher, if you will, was teammate Mike Minor.
Standing about 10 feet behind the plate, protected by a screen, were manager Chris Woodward, pitching coach Julio Rangel and bullpen coach Doug Mathis.
They wore masks as a safeguard against the spread of a national pandemic.
Surely, even Kluber might have been distracted.
He wasn't (and don't call him Shirley).
"It's different," Kluber said. "But ... it's something we'll eventually get used to and not even think twice about."
Kluber said he is on schedule for the first week of the season. So is Minor, whose schedule wasn't affected by a one-day delay in his pre-camp COVID-19 test results.