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Tomlin says time in Triple-A benefited him

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CLEVELAND -- Josh Tomlin surely would have preferred to be in the Opening Day rotation for the Indians, but the right-hander also understood why the Indians felt they were best served depth-wise by sending him to Triple-A Columbus to start the season.

In hindsight, Tomlin also feels the stint in the Minors was beneficial, especially given that he is still finding his form after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow in August 2012.

"[It was good] just to get the legs underneath you again," Tomlin said. "To be in that starting rotation down there and going every fifth day and getting six innings, seven innings, eight, nine, whatever it is, getting the feet wet, knowing what it feels like to get up and down that many times, I needed that. I definitely needed that."

In his first start for the Indians on Tuesday, Tomlin logged 6 2/3 innings against the Twins, limiting them to one run on four hits with four strikeouts and one walk. The righty ended the evening with 93 pitches, including 66 strikes, and he registered 17 first-pitch strikes to the 24 batters he faced. As a result, Tomlin earned his first win in the Majors since July 5, 2012.

Tomlin's showing was a continuation of his work in Triple-A, where he posted a 2.06 ERA and 0.89 WHIP across 35 innings in five starts. Along the way, he racked up 28 strikeouts compared with nine walks for the Clippers. The right-hander had also reeled off 20 straight shutout innings before being promoted to Cleveland for Tuesday's outing.

When the Indians chose to go with Carlos Carrasco over Tomlin for the lone rotation vacancy at the end of the spring, part of the reasoning was that Carrasco (now in Cleveland's bullpen) was out of Minor League options. Cleveland also felt that Tomlin -- given his comeback -- could benefit from getting regular work without the immediate pressure of the Major League stage.

Indians manager Terry Francona was pleased to hear Tomlin echoed that sentiment.

"It's hard to tell a guy that," Francona said. "The one thing we were trying to be very respectful of was that Josh had gotten to a point where he wasn't rehabbing anymore. ... There were a lot of things that we discussed towards the end of spring. When it came down to it, one of the things that we didn't think was bad was him pitching and getting some innings in the Triple-A environment.

"That wasn't the end all, be all, but I think we all thought there was nothing wrong with that."

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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