At the beginning of spring training, there were five vying for what appeared to be one spot in the Indians rotation. As of Tuesday, there are two spots.
MRI results have revealed that Gavin Floyd has suffered a re-injury of a stress fracture to his right elbow. The team announced that the medical staff is continuing to gather information on the best treatment options, which may include surgery.
"I think it’s pretty safe to say he is going to miss significant time," manager Terry Francona told reporters before the Indians faced the Cubs at Goodyear Ballpark. "That was a tough pill for him to swallow because he did his rehab so diligently. He was so ready and felt good about things. It is like getting punched in the stomach. It’s a lot to ask but if he wants to pitch again in the majors he will conquer this."
Looking for a veteran arm to add to the rotation, the Indians signed Floyd to a one-year deal on Dec. 16 despite elbow problems the past two seasons. He underwent Tommy John Surgery in May of 2013 while with the White Sox. Last year with Atlanta and nine starts into his comeback, the right-hander fractured the olecranon bone in the elbow on June 19 when Atlanta faced Washington. He had surgery six days later.
Prior to the injury, Floyd had gone 2-2 with a 2.65 ERA and had struck out 45 in 54 1/3 innings. Dr. David Altchek, who performed both surgeries, told Floyd that the fracture was a rarity, especially after having Tommy John surgery.
"Once it healed they said I was fine. I went back to preparing like normal," Floyd said two weeks ago. "So far I have never ha a moment where I was wondering if it was going to break again."
Francona said throughout spring training that they liked the way Floyd was pitching but were still monitoring him. He was supposed to pitch last Sunday against the Rangers but the start was shelved when arm problems started to arise.
When asked if he knew how the injury occured, Francona said he doubted it came from just one pitch and was more gradual.
"He was throwing really well. It probably goes to show how tough they are. To see that caught us all off guard," he said. "Signing Gavin we knew there were some things in his arm before and you run that risk. I think teamwise we’ll be fine."
With Floyd sidelined, there are some questions about the rotation but nothing major. Francona was hoping that Floyd could follow Corey Kluber but the favorite now would appear to be Carlos Carrasco. In the 10 starts he made following Kluber, Carrasco was 5-3 with a 1.30 ERA and held opposing batters to a .179 average.
After Trevor Bauer, those vying for the last two spots are Zach McAllister, Danny Salazar, T.J. House, Josh Tomlin and Bruce Chen. Barring an injury, McAllister has a spot on the pitching staff since he is out of options and after pitching well out of the bullpen the final month of the season.
Salazar and House could be the favorites. Salazar was 5-4 with a 3.50 ERA the second half of the year while House was 4-0 with a 2.20 ERA in his final seven starts. Tomlin has suffered from right shoulder fatigue and was scratched from a weekend start, but Francona said the right-hander will resume throwing on Wednesday and could be available this weekend. Chen, who was signed prior to the start of spring training, has struck out seven of the 19 batters he has faced in two games.
When asked earlier in camp what he is looking for to complete rotation Francona said: "Numerous things. There are so many inconsistencies in camp where sometimes you’re facing kids in Double-A or the winds out one day. There are a lot of variables. We really try to see if the guy’s following the glove, because if they are, when we put a game plan in those are the guys that should be able to follow it."
SIGNINGS: Before the game the Indians announced that they had signed 11 of their pre-arbitation eligible players to one-year deals. They are pitchers Austin Adams, Trevor Bauer, Charles Brewer, TJ House, C.C. Lee, Zach McAllister and Danny Salazar along with infielders Jesus Aguilar and Erik Gonzalez, catcher Roberto Perez and outfielder Tyler Holt.
The only pre-arbitation Cleveland player who has not been signed to a one-year is reigning Cy Young winner Corey Kluber as both sides weigh a new contract prior to the April 6 opener at Houston.