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Kazmir working his way to bullpen session

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CLEVELAND -- The Indians' rotation has had its share of issues early on, beginning with the right rib-cage strain that sent fifth starter Scott Kazmir to the disabled list on Opening Day. The left-hander is itching to rejoin the staff as soon as possible.

"I want to go out there and compete as much as the next person," Kazmir said, "especially me being out right now. But I've just got to concentrate on what I need to do. I can't rush anything. I'm just concentrating on just getting out there. That's the only thing I can control."

On Thursday, Kazmir played long toss up to a distance of 120 feet and did not feel any lingering pain from the injury, which flared up while playing catch on April 1. If he feels fine on Friday, he will work through a bullpen session for the first time since being sidelined.

He is looking forward to that important step.

"The big test will be [on Friday], when I throw a bullpen," he said. "We'll see how that feels, getting a little more extension when I get on the mound, downhill and everything. That will tell me a lot."

Kazmir, who has not pitched a full season in the Majors since 2010, won the fifth spot in the rotation during Spring Training, only to be shelved before making his first start. In his place, Cleveland has used right-handers Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco out of the fifth slot. Corey Kluber was promoted from Triple-A to start on Wednesday, but the game against the Yankees was rained out.

Cleveland's rotation has a 5.86 ERA through eight games.

Kazmir will be eligible to be activated on Wednesday, but manager Terry Francona said he will likely need a few more days before rejoining the rotation.

"Hopefully, not too far after that," Francona said. "I think he feels really comfortable with where he is. That's also good. The idea, when anything happens, is to not cut corners, do it right and then hopefully, when guys are ready, they're ready."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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