CLEVELAND -- It is but a single start, but it means a lot to Josh Tomlin.
Tomlin hasn't pitched since Aug. 24 because of right elbow soreness, but he's recovered in time to make one last appearance in 2011. The Indians will have him start one of the games in Saturday's day-night doubleheader against the Twins, assuming a simulated session at Progressive Field between games of Tuesday's doubleheader with the White Sox goes well.
"It's going to be our third game of the day," Manny Acta quipped.
And it will be Tomlin's last start of what had been, before the injury, an impressive first full season at this level. He was 12-7 with a 4.25 ERA, and his last start against the Tigers was the first of his career in which he failed to give the Indians at least five innings. He knows the Indians are out of contention, but this start, he said, will be a big confidence boost going into the winter.
"For me, it's huge," he said. "I want to compete, and I want to go into the offseason knowing everything is fine, health-wise, so I can have that calm about me."
Why didn't the Indians just let Tomlin shut it down and call it a year, rather than have him rehab for a single start?
"We're not in the business of shutting a guy down if he's healthy," Acta said. "The guy is fine, he's checked with the doctors, gone through the process of more than one bullpen and the simulated game. It's not like we need to see him one more time. We saw him enough. But if he's good to pitch, why not? We don't run the risk of losing him long-term."
Tomlin, though, will be on a slightly limited pitch count in the outing.