Notes: Carmona shakes off tough debut

Notes: Carmona shakes off tough debut

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- To hear Fausto Carmona talk, you wouldn't know he won 19 games and finished fourth in the American League Cy Young voting last year.

Carmona said he feels no different about his position with the Indians this spring than he did a year ago at this time -- when he was nothing more than a sixth, depth starter set to fill in for an injured Cliff Lee.

"Coming into this year, I have an opportunity to be in the rotation," Carmona said through bullpen catcher Dennis Malave, acting as an interpreter. "But I've still got to do my work."

He got his work in Monday at Knology Park, but that's about the best one can say about his '08 Grapefruit League debut against the Blue Jays.

Carmona didn't even make it out of his second of two scheduled innings of work. He was roughed up for two runs on five hits with a walk, a strikeout and a hit batter in 1 2/3 innings, using 47 pitches along the way.

"I felt good," Carmona said. "I was overthrowing in the first inning, but it's a long process."

Carmona made a quick and unexpected rise to prominence last season. After a whirlwind '06 in which he dominated as a setup man and flopped as a closer, Carmona came back strong to go 19-8 with a 3.06 ERA in 32 starts. His ERA was the second-best in the AL.

The Indians would obviously sign up for those numbers again, but they know better than to expect them from the 24-year-old right-hander. They also know he'll be under more scrutiny from outsiders this season.

"There are going to be adjustments he has to make," manager Eric Wedge said. "He just needs to concentrate on himself and what he needs to do to get better."

Like fellow 19-game winner C.C. Sabathia, Carmona struggled in the AL Championship Series against the Red Sox. He gave up 11 runs in six innings over two starts. That came after a dominant performance in Game 2 of the AL Division Series against the Yankees.

"I learned from the pressure of the playoffs," he said. "In baseball, it's always about winning, but I recognized there's a lot more pressure in the playoffs."

The pressure is no longer on Carmona to earn a job with the Tribe. But he's not treating it that way.

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"This is a new season for me," he said. "I'm going to go out every opportunity I have to pitch and stay in good shape. That's the only thing I can control."

Upgrade: When outfielder Jason Tyner was signed to a Minor League deal by the Tribe last month, he wasn't extended an invite to big league camp. But Tyner has been around so much for the club's Grapefruit League games that he might as well have been included.

The Indians made it official Monday. Tyner is now the 21st invitee to camp.

"We've called him up from Minor League camp so much, we might as well give him a locker," Wedge joked. "He's a big leaguer. We look at him as a legitimate guy for us. In regard to how this spring plays out and early in the season, he's definitely an option for us."

The 30-year-old Tyner has two hits and two RBIs in three spring at-bats. He spent all of last season with the Twins, batting .286 in 114 games.

Sickly setback: Cliff Lee's bid to rejoin the Indians rotation has been hampered in these early days of Grapefruit League action.

Lee has been sick with a flu bug that's been floating around the Chain of Lakes complex and has yet to make a start. He's tentatively scheduled to start Tuesday's game in Sarasota, Fla., against the Reds, but that's not guaranteed.

"I'll get the report on him when we get back [to Winter Haven]," Wedge said.

Lee is battling fellow left-handers Jeremy Sowers and Aaron Laffey for the fifth starting spot.

In the mix: When the Indians signed Scott Elarton to a Minor League deal shortly before camp opened, it was viewed as a favor to give Elarton a chance to showcase himself to other clubs.

But Wedge said he considers Elarton, who pitched in the Indians' rotation in 2004 and '05, a part of the mix of contenders for the final spot in the Indians' bullpen.

The 32-year-old Elarton has pitched well in camp thus far. He's yet to allow a run in three innings over two appearances, allowing one hit and one walk. He looked particularly sharp in two innings of work Sunday.

"I think he's been throwing the ball very well," Wedge said. "He was down, down and down [on Sunday]. It looks like his arm's working well right now."

On deck: If all goes to plan, Lee, Laffey and Sowers will all take the mound in Sarasota in Tuesday's 1:05 p.m. ET game. Right-hander Matt Belisle will start for the Reds. Masa Kobayashi, Jensen Lewis, Jorge Julio, Matt Ginter and Reid Santos will also be available for the Tribe.

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