LAKELAND, Fla. -- It's times like these Jason Davis is glad he's no longer a starter. Back in Davis' days as a rotation arm an injury inconvenience such as the one he suffered earlier this month, when he experienced some soreness in his throwing shoulder, might have cost him an opportunity to be ready for Opening Day. Instead, Davis, who became a full-time reliever last season, looks to be out of the woods. After going idle for 12 days, he pitched a scoreless inning Tuesday against the Devil Rays and two more Thursday night against the Tigers.
"It's out of here now," Davis said of the shoulder problem. "I'm ready to roll. That's the good thing about being in the bullpen. If I was starting, it would have been a different story." Davis described the injury as "just a little tightness." He was held out of game action for nearly two weeks but did throw bullpen sessions on the side. "We kept him off the mound and did some stuff with his delivery," pitching coach Carl Willis said. "Mechanically, we were trying to get him on the right track." Davis certainly looked to be on track against the Tigers. In two innings, all he allowed was a walk and a hit. "He looked real good," manager Eric Wedge said. "He used all his pitches and was under control. We'll see how he checks out [physically]. We'll see how he feels when he comes in [Friday]." Davis, out of Minor League options, is expected to be the Tribe's long man out of the bullpen at the start of the season. He has given up two runs on seven hits with three walks and a strikeout in seven innings over five appearances this spring. Difference of opinion: Former Tribe closer Bob Wickman told reporters earlier this week that Fausto Carmona would probably be Cleveland's closer right now if he hadn't been "thrown to the wolves" in Boston and Detroit last summer. Wickman said Carmona lacked the experience necessary to be ready for the closing duties. And had Carmona been granted more room for error, Wickman reasoned, he might have been more successful in the role and in the long run. "It's one thing to have a three-run lead in the ninth, but they asked [Carmona] to save one-run leads in Boston and Detroit," Wickman said. "That's not an easy thing to do." Actually, Carmona's first save opportunity, July 31 in Boston, came with the Indians ahead, 8-6, but his next two -- Aug. 2 in Boston and Aug. 5 in Detroit -- were indeed of the one-run variety.
It was not a good evening for the right-hander, who was anointed the Tribe's fifth starter, replacing an injured Cliff Lee in the rotation, earlier this week. In five innings of work, he gave up four runs on 10 hits with two walks and a strikeout. Five of the hits were doubles, including three consecutive two-baggers in the first inning. "He was up," Wedge said of Carmona, who did settle down a bit as the outing progressed. "His fastball was up, his breaking ball was up. He had 50-some pitches his first two innings and 20-some his last three. That tells you everything you need to know." Before the game, Wedge said Carmona has looked more confident this spring than last. "He definitely has more experience," Wedge said. "To gain experience is one thing. To develop confidence on top of that says a great deal." Paper trail: Cliff Politte, signed to a Minor League contract by the Indians at the outset of Spring Training camp, is still progressing in his rehab from August rotator cuff surgery. But from now on, he won't do so as an official member of big-league camp. Politte was reassigned to Minor League camp Thursday. It was a necessary paper move and no indication of the right-handed reliever's rehab progress. "We're hopeful that at some point he'll help us," Wedge said. "If he's healthy, he'll help us. I like the way he handles himself around the clubhouse." Gimme five? Wedge said it's possible the Indians could carry five outfielders on the Opening Day roster, if Ryan Garko doesn't make the club or if two utility infielders aren't used. If that's the case, Ben Francisco, Shin-Soo Choo and Franklin Gutierrez would be the candidates, and Casey Blake's time in right field would be limited. "That would push Casey more toward first base," Wedge said. Tribe tidbits: Shortstop Jhonny Peralta and second baseman Josh Barfield had an outstanding night defensively Thursday. They combined on six double plays in the 5-4 loss to the Tigers. ... Lee played catch from 90 feet Wednesday and is scheduled to play catch again Friday. Willis said the hope is that Lee, fighting through a right abdominal strain, will be ready to throw a bullpen session in about 10 days. ... Infielder Joe Inglett's timetable to return to exhibition action keeps getting pushed back. The Indians hoped to get him involved earlier this week, but his left hamstring has not cooperated. "He still has struggles with his lower half," Wedge said. "He hasn't been able to overcome it." The hamstring problem has already cost Inglett any chance of winning the Tribe's utility job. ... The Tribe is expected to make its next round of cuts in the next couple days, Wedge said. On deck: The Indians will once again be creatures of the night, as they play host to the Astros at 7:05 p.m. ET at Chain of Lakes Park on Friday. Right-hander Paul Byrd will get the starting nod opposite right-hander Roy Oswalt. Joe Borowski, Aaron Fultz, Roberto Hernandez and Rafael Betancourt are also scheduled to throw for the Tribe.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.