Shoulder injury a big setback for 'pen hopeful Capps

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Indians have a wide-open competition for a handful of spots in their bullpen, and Matt Capps was hoping to make a serious run at one of the jobs. His chances of cracking the Opening Day roster have taken a serious hit.

On Thursday, Indians manager Terry Francona revealed that Capps suffered a strained subscapularis muscle in his right shoulder, forcing the pitcher to halt any throwing for at least the next two weeks. Capps, who underwent surgery on his right shoulder in June, said the injury flared during a long-toss session on Monday.

"It's frustrating, because I was feeling really good," Capps said. "But I think the nature of the beast with a shoulder surgery, there's usually a speed bump or two. Hopefully, this is my one."

Capps said the good news is that an MRI exam showed no damage to the areas that were repaired during his June 5 operation. That procedure was for securing a biceps tendon in the joint, while the latest setback involves a muscle that runs behind the shoulder blade and into the shoulder.

Barring another problem, Capps said he might be able to get on the mound in a Spring Training game by mid- to late-March.

"We're being proactive," Capps said. "I think it sets me three or four weeks back at the best. If it takes a little longer, it takes a little longer. The real silver lining is I got an MRI, and everything that I had repaired is completely fine."

Capps, 30, signed a Minor League contract with Cleveland for the second offseason in a row. Last year, the shoulder became a problem during the spring and then limited him to only six games at Triple-A prior to the surgery. Over the course of his career, the right-hander has posted a 3.52 ERA with 138 saves in 444 games spent with the Pirates, Nationals and Twins.

"He's worked up so hard coming back from that surgery," Francona said. "[Shutting him down will] kind of let him have a chance to show what he can do, rather than have that artificial deadline of Opening Day."

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.