The Indians made a decision based on depth when the time came to piece together their starting rotation for Opening Day. It came down to Carlos Carrasco and Josh Tomlin for the final job. Of the two, only Tomlin had a Minor League option.
After giving Carrasco a chance to reach his potential, the Indians have since altered their initial thought process. Carrasco has been placed in the bullpen following four rocky starts, and Tomlin will be promoted from Triple-A Columbus to start Tuesday's game against the Twins at Progressive Field.
"For Josh, he had a pretty good spring," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "For what I think are the right reasons, we wanted to see Carlos pitch. There's a lot more that goes into it maybe, than just a guy pitching. You know going into the year that you're going to need more than five starters and, if you clear the cupboard to make sure you're set for Game 7 of the World Series on Opening Day, you don't keep your organization very healthy.
"That was something we really were trying to think about a lot and Josh probably caught a little bit of it, because he had an option. That's what we talked about. ... You want to keep depth, knowing that you're going to need it."
Tomlin's start against Minnesota will mark the completion of a long comeback for the pitcher.
A fixture in the Indians' rotation in 2011, Tomlin dealt with arm issues in 2012 and required season-ending Tommy John surgery on his right elbow on Aug. 22 of that season. He last started a game for Cleveland on July 27, 2012, and has not won a game for the Tribe since July 5 that year.
All Francona has seen of the 29-year-old Tomlin are two scoreless innings last September, and a solid showing from the righty this past spring.
"Before I got here, I had heard all the stories about what kind of teammate he was," Francona said. "I got to see it firsthand. When we sent him down, he was as classy as you can be. I root for everybody on our team, but it's hard not to like them. My goodness."
In five starts at Columbus this season, all Tomlin has done is post a 2.06 ERA with a .185 opponents' batting average. In 35 innings, the right-hander has piled up 28 strikeouts against nine walks. On Thursday, Tomlin spun a shutout, limiting Durham to three hits and finishing with 10 strikeouts and no walks.
The Twins will counter with right-hander Samuel Deduno, who will be making his first start of the season for Minnesota. Deduno has been working out of the bullpen this year following a comeback from right shoulder surgery. When Mike Pelfrey went on the disabled list with a strained groin, Deduno got a chance to return to the Twins' rotation.
"They wanted me to be in the bullpen to protect my arm," Deduno said. "My success, doesn't matter what team, I just want to go out there, compete, throw strikes, make my pitches. If I do this, I know I'm going to be successful."
Twins: Mauer dealing with balky back
All-Star first baseman Joe Mauer was unavailable on Monday after leaving Sunday's game with back spasms. Mauer received treatment on Monday and he is considered day to day with the injury. After a slow start, Mauer entered that game hitting .406 with six RBIs in his previous eight games.
"When his back lets him play," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said, "we'll put him back out there."
Indians: Bourn's hamstring acting up
Center fielder Michael Bourn sat out Sunday and Monday due to tightness in his left hamstring. Bourn has indicated that he does not feel that the injury is serious, but it is the same hamstring that required surgery on Oct. 15 and flared up again in March, necessitating a trip to the DL.
"It has crept up now a couple times," Francona said. "I think, from talking to the trainers, the hope is that there's just some scar tissue that is in there, and he's going to feel it sometimes. If that's all it is, we're good to go. That's the hope."
• Entering this four-game series with the Indians, Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe had hit at a .345 clip at Progressive Field, dating back to the start of the 2011 season. His 14 extra-base hits in that span were tied with Kansas City's Alex Gordon for the most among opponents. Detroit's Miguel Cabrera ranked first with 18.
• The Indians used Michael Brantley, Carlos Santana and Lonnie Chisenhall as their 3-4-5 hitters in the lineup on Monday against the Twins. In their career against Deduno, Brantley has hit .286 (4-for-14), Santana has hit .154 (2-for-13) and Chisenhall has hit .333 (3-for-9).
• Entering Monday's series opener against the Twins, the Indians rotation had a 3.35 ERA (37 earned runs in 99 1/3 innings) at Progressive Field. That included a 1.51 ERA (six earned runs in 35 2/3 innings) over the last five starts.