TORONTO -- The Indians have decided to take the cautious route as it pertains to Scott Kazmir's injured right side.
On Thursday, Cleveland announced that Kazmir will be placed on the 15-day disabled list with what is being described as a right rib cage strain. He suffered the injury while playing catch earlier this week. Indians manager Terry Francona said that pitching prospect Trevor Bauer will be promoted from Triple-A Columbus to start in place of Kazmir against the Rays on Saturday.
"Bauer is expected to start," Francona said. "We're obviously working through a lot of things, but that's the plan."
Kazmir, who underwent an MRI exam in Cleveland on Thursday, is expected to miss two or three starts with the minor injury. His stint on the DL is retroactive to Tuesday, meaning he will be eligible to be activated as early as April 17.
Bauer is in the plans for one start at the very least, but Francona was not ready to commit to anything more. Cleveland might consider sliding right-hander Carlos Carrasco into the starting rotation after his six-game suspension is served. Carrasco will be eligible to pitch for the Indians on Monday at the earliest, but the Tribe would not necessarily need its fifth starter to appear again until April 11.
"We're trying to get Carrasco on track," Francona said. "We had a plan set up for him and we didn't want to upset that. The length of Kazmir [on the disabled list], we don't think this is going to be very long. There's other things that could potentially probably weigh into it as we go."
The fifth spot of the rotation came down to Kazmir or Carrasco at the end of Spring Training.
Kazmir alerted the Tribe's medical staff to some discomfort in his right side after playing catch on flat ground at a distance of 90 feet on Monday. Prior to Wednesday's game against the Blue Jays, the 29-year-old lefty worked through a 30-pitch bullpen session without any issues, but the club chose not to risk having him pitch against Tampa Bay.
"We just wanted to be as conservative as possible," Indians head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff said. "He's come a long way professionally. In our minds, this was the prudent thing to do."
Kazmir, who has not pitched a full season in the Majors since 2010, earned the fifth spot in the rotation as a non-roster invitee, allowing nine runs (eight earned) on 29 hits with 23 strikeouts and only three walks in 21 innings, which covered four Cactus League appearances and a pair of Minor League outings.
Bauer -- acquired from the D-backs in December as part of a blockbuster nine-player trade that also involved the Reds -- posted a 4.50 ERA in 14 Cactus League innings this spring. Last season, the righty went 12-2 with a 2.42 ERA in 22 starts between Double-A Mobile and Triple-A Reno, and posted a 6.06 ERA in a four-start stint with Arizona.