GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Indians have only played one game this spring, but Anthony Reyes is already behind in the race for the available job at the back end of the rotation.
Reyes is currently dealing with right elbow discomfort, and Indians manager Manny Acta said there is no timetable right now for the pitcher's return to the mound. Reyes did not pitch in either of Cleveland's intrasquad games on Thursday and Friday, and he had a scheduled bullpen session scratched on Sunday.
Acta noted that Reyes has been examined by Dr. Lewis Yocum, who performed Tommy John surgery on the pitcher's right elbow in June 2009. According to Acta, Reyes does not have any structural damager in the joint, but Cleveland is giving him some time off to be cautious.
"He got checked out and everything," Acta said Sunday. "He's fine, but he's going to take a few days off. The ligament is perfect. There's no structural damage. He's just going to take a few days off and we'll go from there."
Reyes, who missed all of last season with the exception of five Minor League rehab outings, was tabbed by Acta as a "sleeper" candidate for the fifth-starter job earlier this spring. Other contenders for that job include right-handers Josh Tomlin and Jeanmar Gomez and lefties David Huff and Aaron Laffey.
Acta likes what he sees from Tomlin
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Indians manager Manny Acta has a sense of comfort when Josh Tomlin takes the mound. Acta knows that -- given Tomlin's style of pitching -- there are usually two primary outcomes.
"I'm not on the edge of my seat," Acta said. "He either gets them out or he doesn't get them out. That makes it easier for me."
Acta's point was that Tomlin keeps his pitches near the strike zone, creating more contact from hitters than self-induced problems. During Sunday's Cactus League opener against the Reds, Tomlin put that approach on display, taking his first step toward trying to win the available spot in the rotation.
Tomlin's appearance was brief -- lasting only two innings, six batters and 17 pitches -- but the right-hander was effective. He surrendered one hit, which was quickly erased by a double play, and ended with one strikeout and five outs created via ground balls.
2010 Spring Training - Cleveland Indians
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All in all, Tomlin walked away satisfied.
"I'm not trying to make the team today," Tomlin said. "I'm just trying to get out there and focus on each pitch at a time, staying within myself and throwing strikes. I felt like I controlled my emotions a little bit and was able to go out there and throw first-pitch strikes."
Right now, Tomlin's main competitors for the vacant fifth spot are Jeanmar Gomez, David Huff and Aaron Laffey. The first four rotation spots are currently lined up for Fausto Carmona, Justin Masterson, Mitch Talbot and Carlos Carrasco.
Last year, the 26-year-old Tomlin spent a majority of the season with Triple-A Columbus, going 8-4 with a 2.68 ERA over 20 games (17 starts). In 12 outings with Cleveland, Tomlin posted a 6-4 record with a 4.56 ERA, piling up 43 strikeouts against 19 walks in 73 innings.
Acta liked what he saw from Tomlin in 2010.
"[He showed] the ability to throw strikes with three or more pitches," Acta said, "and the ability to do the rest of the stuff to be an effective pitcher. He holds runners well. He fields his position very well. He's very athletic. He helps himself."
Asked if he thought he did enough last year to be considered a front-runner for the fifth starter's job, Tomlin did not hesitate with his response.
"No, I don't," Tomlin said. "I think we have great arms right now in this organization. I think you have to prove yourself every day here. Nothing is going to be given to you. You have to pretty much earn everything every day."
Santana's knee holds up in Cactus debut
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Carlos Santana had gone through plenty of drills this spring. The Indians catcher had also caught a variety of pitchers in the bullpen and even took part in one of the club's intrasquad games last week.
Even so, Santana was a little nervous heading into Sunday's Cactus League opener against the Reds. Santana had not been behind the plate in a big league game since last August, when he suffered a frightening left knee injury.
Santana came away relieved after feeling great against Cincinnati.
"My knee is good," Santana said Sunday. "I was very scared today that my knee would be a little hurt, because I have not played in a long time. But today my knee was great."
Santana, 24, damaged the lateral collateral ligament in his left knee during a collision at home plate on Aug. 2 in Boston. Four days later, he underwent surgery on the knee and feared it might be a long time before he could return to a baseball field.
"I thought I'd come back," Santana said. "But I thought I might not play for one or two years."
Instead, Santana was cleared for all baseball activities at the beginning of camp this spring, and he has no limitations from here on out. Indians manager Manny Acta noted, however, that Santana will not catch in back-to-back games for now, which is a normal approach with catchers during Spring Training.
"He's been right on with everything," Acta said. "There's no issues whatsoever. We have a plan for him. ... He's being built up just like nothing has happened to him."
On Sunday, Santana caught two innings and went 0-for-1 with a groundout in his lone plate appearance against the Reds. Santana will likely see some time at first base later this spring, but the current plan calls for him to be back behind the plate on Tuesday.
"I'm very excited," Santana said. "This was my first game in a long time. I am feeling great."
Prior to Sunday's spring opener against the Reds, the Indians played a tribute video in memory of franchise icon Bob Feller. The Hall of Fame pitcher's No. 19 was also painted into the grass in front of Cleveland's dugout. Beyond the wall in left-center, a large banner displayed Feller's number and the words, "Always in our hearts." Feller passed away in December at the age of 92. "You can't help but notice that he's not around," Acta said. "He was always a presence. That's what I always felt, that there's never been a Hall of Fame-caliber type of guy who identified so much with his franchise. Bob meant a lot to us." ... Former Indians player and manager Mike Hargrove threw out the ceremonial first pitch on Sunday. Hargrove is now a special advisor for the ballclub. ... Indians top prospect, third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall, went 2-for-2 with two doubles, one run scored and one RBI in Sunday's spring opener. "Lonnie continues to show why so many people are so high on him," Acta said. ... Minor League outfielder Ezequiel Carrera belted the first home run of Spring Training for the Indians, launching a two-run shot in the seventh inning on Sunday. ... Indians pitching prospect Alex White allowed two runs on three hits with one strikeout and one walk in one inning on Sunday. ... Indians closer Chris Perez made his Cactus League debut and worked a scoreless third inning in Sunday's game against Cincinnati. ... Lefty Aaron Laffey, who is in the running for the fifth spot in the Tribe's rotation, logged one shutout inning with one hit allowed against the Reds. ... Left fielder Travis Buck made an error on a fly ball in the fifth inning on Sunday, but Acta noted that Buck lost the ball in the sun. "He did a fantastic job covering the sun himself," Acta said. "He just couldn't come up with it." ... Acta noted that second baseman Orlando Cabrera's right arm strength is not at 100 percent yet. "He's a veteran guy and he knows what to do to get himself in shape," Acta said. "His throwing arm is not in complete shape yet. He'll be fine."