GOODYEAR, ARIZ.: If all goes well in his final spring training start, the Indians are planning to have Carlos Carrasco in the rotation to open the 2017 season.

Carrasco is behind the other starting pitchers after dealing with discomfort in his right elbow earlier this spring. He threw three innings in his last Cactus League start and still has to be stretched out in order to handle a full workload.

The Indians believe that they would be able to get 4-5 innings of Carrasco in his first start of the regular season. Carrasco will have to be eased into the season, but the club will take what he can give them.

“Yeah I think we feel after his four-inning outing, that he’s going to be ready to go,” pitching coach Mickey Callaway said. “Obviously not stretched out to the point that everybody else is, but we feel that him being Carrasco and a good five innings out of him at 85 pitches is going to be enough for him to move forward and be ready to go.”

If Carrasco can’t go four innings in his final Cactus League start, it could alter the Indians’ plans.

Indians manager Terry Francona also offered some clarity on the starting rotation one week ahead of the April 3 Opening Day game against the Texas Rangers. He said the Indians will line up the rotation as follows: Corey Kluber, Carrasco, Danny Salazar, Josh Tomlin and Trevor Bauer. The club plans to throw each starter in that order without skipping anyone, which was an option early in the season with two off days in the first two weeks.

Three in a row

Michael Brantley is slated to play in three Cactus League games in a row starting on Tuesday, which will follow an off day on Monday. Brantley has played in five Cactus League games this spring. On Sunday, he clubbed his first home run in more than a calendar year.

Brantley playing in three consecutive games without any setbacks would be yet another cleared hurdle in his path back to the lineup.

“I think he’s done terrific,” Francona said. “The plan is for him to play three in a row. Now if it needs to change, we can always do that. But he looks very good. He feels very good. It’s pretty exciting.”

The Indians haven’t ruled out Opening Day for Brantley’s return but they also don’t want to push him too soon and increase the risk of yet another setback after last year’s frustrating season.

“I think there’s a chance,” Francona said. “I just don’t think we know. Only because we’re trying to be fair to him. Rather than, like last year, he pushed so hard for Opening Day. And it’s important. Having your players is important. But we need to make sure we do right by him because that will end up being right by us. We’re just trying to be fair.”

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