MLB

Tomlin named Indians' fifth starter

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GOODYEAR, Ariz. (AP)

Josh Tomlin still can't quite comprehend that he's in the Cleveland Indians' rotation.

Manager Manny Acta told the right-hander Friday morning that he had won the job.

''I'm excited, but I don't believe it until it actually happens,'' Tomlin said. ''I'm taking nothing for granted.''

Tomlin beat out left-hander David Huff and right-hander Jeanmar Gomez, who were optioned to Triple-A Columbus along with outfielder Ezequiel Carrera.

Acta said outfielders Travis Buck and Shelley Duncan made the team, and that Jack Hannahan will open the season at third base. Buck and Hannahan are non-roster invitees. Cleveland has one opening on its 40-man roster, with yet more invitees competing for three bullpen spots, the utility infielder role and backup catcher.

''We'll have some more tough decisions,'' Acta said. ''That's progress. Tomlin and Buck clearly had the best camps, and Hannahan did what was advertised defensively. We're comfortable with what Shelley can do, coming off the bench.''

Acta said opening day starter Fausto Carmona will be followed in the rotation by Carlos Carrasco, Justin Masterson, Tomlin and Mitch Talbot.

''We wanted to break up the sinkerballers,'' Acta said. ''After the first week, it doesn't matter. Everybody is No. 1 (on the day they pitch) and everybody is No. 5 (the next day).''

Acta likes that Tomlin throws four pitches for strikes and isn't concerned that the entire rotation is right-handed. Earlier in camp, he said whether or not a player could pitch effectively was more important than which arm was used.

''I would take five Roy Halladays and not worry about a lefty,'' Acta said. ''If you had nine Joe Mauers batting left-handed, would you take out Mauer No. 7 just to use a right-hander?''

Tomlin had an exceptional spring, compiling a 1.13 ERA in three outings against major league competition. In a recent start in a minor league game, he worked five perfect innings, striking out five.

''I didn't try to do anything different, stayed in my regular routine,'' the 26-year-old Texan said. ''I did work out a little more than usual before camp because I knew they were going to throw more innings at me.''

Tomlin went 51-24 in five seasons in the Indians' farm system, including 8-4 with a 2.68 ERA at Columbus last year. In 12 starts after being called up July 27, he was 6-4 with a 4.56 ERA, including a complete-game win over Kansas City on Sept. 24.

''Josh had a great camp,'' general manager Chris Antonetti said. ''He stayed on point, pounding the strike zone. He just didn't relent and showed all his attributes.''

Huff, an 11-game winner two years ago after being called up in June, struggled to a 2-11 record and was sent back to the minors last year. He had a 5.82 ERA and allowed 21 hits in 17 innings this spring.

''We still believe David, with a few adjustments, can pitch in the majors,'' Antonetti said. ''Moving up from Triple-A is still the most challenging step to make and not always a seamless one.''

Antonetti said right-handed reliever Joe Smith likely will go on the disabled list as he recovers from an abdominal strain. Frank Herrmann, Vinnie Pestano, Jess Todd and non-roster Justin Germano are still competing for the open bullpen spots with veterans Doug Mathis and Anthony Reyes reassigned to the minor league camp.

Cleveland also took back right-hander Jose Flores from the Seattle Mariners, who selected the right-hander in the Rule 5 Draft. Flores will rejoin the Indians' minor leaguers Saturday.

Tagged: Indians, Jack Hannahan, Travis Buck, David Huff

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