Notes: 'Mild' ab strain keeps Lee out

Notes: 'Mild' ab strain keeps Lee out

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. -- Cliff Lee was scratched from his scheduled bullpen session on Thursday.

And if this keeps up, you can scratch him from the Indians' season-opening rotation as well.

Lee, 28, continues to be pestered by a strained right abdominal muscle that has kept him out of Grapefruit League action. He played catch twice earlier this week and was hoping to begin throwing off the mound Thursday, but his body did not cooperate.

Head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff said that the Indians will evaluate Lee again on Sunday. If the symptoms of the strain are still lingering by that point, Lee would be shut down from throwing for a period of 10-12 days, putting his start to the season in jeopardy.

"He has not progressed to the point where he is ready to begin bullpens," Soloff said. "Early in Spring Training, we want to be as cautious and conservative as possible. At the same time, we understand the clock is ticking for Opening Day and his first start."

If Lee is unable to begin the year on the active roster, right-hander Fausto Carmona would be the front-runner for the vacant rotation spot.

"But we would leave all our options open," manager Eric Wedge said. "We'll cross that bridge when we come to it. We'd have to have an extended conversation about that."

For now, the hope is that Lee, who went 14-11 with a 4.40 ERA in 33 starts last season, will recover by Sunday.

"We'll have a better time frame, based on how he responds to treatment and rest over the next 48 hours," Soloff said. "If he's unable to progress his throwing by Sunday, his start of the season is questionable."

The Indians are classifying this as a "mild" strain. They still don't think it's as severe as the abdominal strain and sports hernia that cost Lee the first two months of the '03 season.

"We're going to try to remain optimistic," Wedge said. "We'll see how the next couple days go."

Water damage: Just call it Chain of Leaks Park.

Thursday's home game against the Phillies was temporarily delayed when a foul ball off the bat of Michael Aubrey smashed into a water pipe in the visitors' dugout, causing water to gush out onto the on-deck circle for several minutes. The Phillies players scattered away from the water, drawing a round of laughter from the fans in attendance.

Chain of Lakes maintenance crew members were able to stop the spurt with towels, but it erupted twice more before the shut-off valve was finally discovered.

"I think they finally got it stopped by the eighth inning," Aubrey joked. "I've never seen a water spurt like that before."

Still hurting: Joe Inglett knows that his strained left hamstring isn't helping his case to be the Indians' utility infielder.

"I need to be on the field to help my cause," he said. "Not being out there hurts me."

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Alas, so does the hammy. It's been hurting Inglett for several days now, and he hasn't appeared in a game since Monday. He's still listed as day-to-day.

"I've got to listen to what my body tells me," Inglett said. "I don't want to injure it any more."

Back in action: Brian Slocum was also held up by a sore hamstring on Thursday. The right-hander is still waiting to make his first appearance in a Grapefruit League game.

But Slocum, who is likely to start '07 in the Triple-A Buffalo rotation, said that the pain is behind him. He threw about 40 pitches in a bullpen session on Thursday morning and is expected to get the ball in Saturday's home game against the Reds.

"[The injury] is the furthest thing from my mind now," Slocum said. "Now, I just want to focus on keeping the ball down."

Dellucci's hobby: David Dellucci was sifting through a package of TNA Wrestling T-shirts and DVDs on Thursday morning.

What, uh, does that acronym stand for?

"It stands for Total Nonstop Action," Dellucci said with a laugh, "but it's hard to get people to believe that."

Dellucci received the package from his good buddy Kevin Nash, a professional wrestler. The two met at an autograph signing in Scottsdale, Ariz., years ago and have been close ever since. Nash even wore Dellucci's Diamondbacks jersey in the ring once.

"We've become good buddies," Dellucci said. "When our schedules align, we try to see each other."

TNA has an upcoming show in Orlando, so Nash and some of his wrestling peers will be meeting up with Dellucci this weekend.

First impression: C.C. Sabathia had never faced Phillies slugger Ryan Howard before Friday's game. And after Howard took Sabathia's inside fastball the other way for a solo homer in the second inning, Sabathia knew what so many National League pitchers have known for quite a while.

"He's great," Sabathia said of Howard. "I can't say anything but that."

The Indians and Phillies will face each other in Interleague Play at Jacobs Field in June. Sabathia's already looking forward to it.

"I'll have a chance to redeem myself," he said.

Tribe tidbits: Sabathia was getting ready to go watch Duke take on N.C. State in the first round of the ACC men's basketball tournament in Tampa on Thursday night. Duke guard DeMarcus Nelson and Sabathia share a hometown of Vallejo, Calif., so Sabathia, a North Carolina fan, is rooting for the Blue Devils for a change. ... Hall of Famer Bob Feller was unhurt in a minor car accident at the Chain of Lakes complex on Tuesday. Nilesh Shah, a physician with the Class A Kinston club, backed into the 88-year-old Feller's car. Feller is at Indians camp every spring, throwing out a ceremonial first pitch and signing autographs for fans. ... Before the game against the Phillies, the Indians had a moment of silence for former Phillies coach John Vukovich, who died on Thursday morning at the age of 59 from complications caused by an inoperable brain tumor.

On deck: The Indians are splitting up on Friday to play a pair of NL Central squads. In Sarasota, hot prospect Adam Miller will get the starting nod against the Reds at 1:05 p.m. ET. He'll be taking on right-hander Bronson Arroyo. Back home in Winter Haven at 7:05 p.m., veteran Paul Byrd will start against the Pirates, opposite right-hander Shawn Chacon.

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.