TORONTO: The season is getting more complicated for the Indians.
They will have a new starter for Saturday, when Trevor Bauer pitches against the Tampa Bay Rays. Bauer is getting an early-season shot in the big leagues because Scott Kazmir, the original starter, went on the disabled list Thursday (retroactive to Tuesday) with a strain in his right rib cage.
Kazmir left the team Wednesday and underwent an MRI scan at the Cleveland Clinic that confirmed the diagnosis. He is eligible to come off the DL on April 17 but will miss two or three starts between now and then.
It’s possible that Kazmir could remain on the DL longer, but the Tribe’s medical staff thinks the injury is relatively minor.
“We’re going to be as conservative as we can possibly be,” head trainer Lonnie Soloff said. “In our minds, that’s the most prudent thing to do.”
The Kazmir injury already forced manager Terry Francona to scrap his plan of keeping eight relievers for the first week or three of the season, because of the scarcity of off days.
Kazmir was added to the roster on Tuesday, so he could go on the DL if necessary. His roster spot materialized only because lefty reliever Nick Hagadone was optioned to Triple-A Columbus.
The Tribe began tinkering with the roster in the last days of spring training by adding Carlos Carrasco, allowing him to work off a six-day suspension, dating from 2011, when he threw at Billy Butler of the Kansas City Royals. Carrasco subsequently underwent elbow surgery that kept him from pitching (and serving the suspension) until this year.
Carrasco will be eligible to pitch on Monday and could replace the inexperienced Bauer on the Indians’ first homestand.
“I think we’re better off leaving things where they’re at for now,” Francona said, refusing to speculate on that possibility.
Bauer, scheduled to be in the rotation at Columbus, was the only realistic choice to take the place of Kazmir. Though he is not yet a finished product, the 22-year-old Bauer has the highest upside of any pitcher in the Tribe’s farm system.
Daisuke Matsuzaka was another candidate, but he did not seem ready for big-league competition in spring training, and a player would have to be lopped off the 40-man roster to make room for him.
Ostensibly, Corey Kluber also was also a candidate, but he has not been successful in previous major-league trials.
Sheldon Ocker can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Indians blog at http://www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SheldonOckerABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.