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Tribe easing slowed Smith into camp

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GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Indians held their first workout for pitchers and catchers on Tuesday, but it quickly became clear that setup man Joe Smith was on a different program.

Cleveland manager Terry Francona indicated that Smith is currently working through a minor left oblique issue, and the team is being cautious out of the gates. According to Francona, Smith is likely a week or two behind the rest of the team's pitchers.

"We do not want this to become a big abdominal strain," Francona said. "We will slow play it, because of the length of Spring Training. It's nothing serious, but we are not going to let this be something serious."

Smith was able to play catch on flat ground on Tuesday.

Over the past two years, the 28-year-old sidearmer has been one of Cleveland's most reliable options out of the bullpen. Smith has worked in 143 games over that period, going 10-7 with a 2.49 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP across 134 innings. Last year, he went 7-4 with a 2.96 ERA in 72 appearances.

This past offseason, Smith avoided arbitration with a one-year, $3.15 million contract that includes a $25,000 bonus for pitching in 65 games.

Francona emphasized that the Indians will take every precaution to make sure Smith is ready for the regular season.

"With those types of injuries," Francona said, "when they say they're OK, you usually probably wait a couple days. Because when they come back, they can come back with a vengeance, and we really don't need to do that."

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