TORONTO — The Indians emerged from spring training an optimistic, and more importantly, healthy bunch. That changed hours before Cleveland’s season opener against the Blue Jays on Tuesday.
Fifth starter Scott Kazmir felt discomfort in his side while playing catch Monday during a workout at the Rogers Centre. It has put his first outing of the season Saturday against his former team Tampa Bay in jeopardy.
To cover themselves in case of the left-hander’s possible trip to the disabled list, the Indians, who weren’t expected to add Kazmir to the 25-man roster until just prior to his season debut, activated him Tuesday. By adding Kazmir to the roster, Cleveland can make the DL move retroactive to Tuesday.
“The hope is that he’ll go out and throw his side and pitch Saturday,” manager Terry Francona said. “If that isn’t the case, we’ll have contingency plans and we’ll walk through more if we have to. That’s kind of where we’re at.”
The Indians needed to clear a roster spot for Kazmir, with left-handed reliever Nick Hagadone getting optioned to Triple-A Columbus.
If Kazmir is unable to go Saturday, Cleveland will most likely promote a pitcher from Columbus. The candidates are right-handers Corey Kluber, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Trevor Bauer and left-hander David Huff. Matsuzaka would have to be added to the 40-man roster.
“We still have to assess where (Kazmir) is, but it would be all those guys at Triple-A,” assistant general manager Mike Chernoff said.
Francona held his preseason meeting with players Monday, rather than wait for the day of the first game.
“It wasn’t very long, but I think it was a slightly different message that goes to a group of 25 than you do to a group of 60-65 at the start of camp,” Francona said. “It was just how we want to do things, just remind guys of how we want to play the game and how we want to look out for each other. That’s basically it. Regardless of what happens, we want to make sure we do it together.”
Big for Big U
It’s a big year in more ways than one for Indians right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez, who will start the second game of the season-opening series tonight.
Jimenez has struggled since arriving in Cleveland and is in the final year of his contract with the team, but looked good this spring and says he feels better than he ever has in an Indians uniform.
“I feel really good,” Jimenez said. “I’m not worried about mechanics or anything like that. I’m just thinking about getting people out. I’m very excited to be able to go out there and compete.”
Francona stayed true to the lineup he employed for much of the spring in the season opener, doing his best to separate the left-handed hitters — Michael Bourn, Jason Kipnis, Michael Brantley and Lonnie Chisenhall — in his batting order.
“It gives us speed at the bottom and balance throughout,” he said. “There could be some interchangeable parts. I just think the way we have it now, other managers can’t stack their lefties in the bullpen and give them a free pass.”
With just over a year of big-league experience, Kipnis is in the third hole — a spot usually reserved for the club’s best hitter.
“Based on our team and information, this lineup makes sense to me,” Francona said. “If we don’t hit, no lineup’s going to work, and if we hit, you could put him anywhere and we’re going to fine. That’s the way the game works.”
Outfielder Ezequiel Carrera was claimed off waivers by the Phillies on Tuesday, while Huff cleared waivers and was outrighted to Columbus.
Huff, 28, was hoping to land a job with another team after spending the first seven years of his professional career with Cleveland. He has made 52 starts for the Indians over the past four seasons, leading the club with 11 wins in 2009.
He entered training camp in the mix for a spot in the rotation, then was a candidate for a relief job before being designated for assignment.
The name plate above utility man Ryan Raburn’s locker was misspelled, with a “Y” added to his last name. Raburn, a surprising addition to Cleveland’s roster, has seen if before.
“I’m used to it. They spell it wrong everywhere,” he said.
The Indians entered Tuesday with a 57-55 record in their season opener, having lost four straight and nine of their last 13. … Geddy Lee, the front man and bass player for Canadian rock band and recent Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Rush, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. … Tonight, 7:07, STO. Jimenez (first start) vs. Morrow (first start).
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