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03/13/2013 1:54 PM ET

Herrmann out for the year after elbow surgery

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Indians reliever Frank Herrmann had hoped to make a run at the Opening Day bullpen this spring. Now, the pitcher's chances of making the bullpen next spring are no longer certain.

On Wednesday, Herrmann underwent Tommy John ligament-replacement surgery on his right elbow in New York. Dr. David Altchek performed the operation, which typically requires a recovery period of around 12-18 months.

"I feel like I finally got myself where I wanted to be, and thought I could be," Herrmann said earlier this spring after injuring his elbow. "Coming into this year, I felt great. I still physically feel great, other than the ligament. It's frustrating, but it's part of the game. I've had seven full seasons where I haven't been unavailable one day.

"I've been able to be durable. I've been able to go out there and help the team. Now that I feel like I've got to the point where I can really contribute, it's frustrating."

Herrmann -- the longest-tenured Cleveland Indians player on the team's 40-man roster -- felt a sharp pain in his throwing elbow during his one-inning appearance against the A's on Feb. 25. The right-hander pushed through the discomfort, but he lost command of his pitches and surrendered four runs on five hits. It was a discouraging end to a spring that had hardly begun for the pitcher.

Last season, the 28-year-old Herrmann posted a 2.33 ERA in 15 games for Cleveland, striking out 14 and walking four over 19 1/3 innings. It was a small sample, but it gave Herrmann (signed out of Harvard as a non-drafted free agent in 2005) evidence that the curveball he added during his time at Triple-A Columbus could play on the big league stage.

Herrmann is now facing a long road back to the Tribe's relief corps.

"I'm ready for whatever comes my way," Herrmann said last week, "[whether that means] having to sit out a year or the off chance you never get the opportunity to pitch again. It's just kind of how it goes."

Dice-K doing better after setback

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Indians are confident that Daisuke Matsuzaka can proceed as planned in his attempt to earn the fifth spot in the starting rotation.

Matsuzaka played catch and went through a normal workout Wednesday -- two days after exiting his outing against the Angels with cramping in his right calf muscle. Cleveland manager Terry Francona said the pitcher was doing much better in the wake of that minor setback.

"He's fine; it was just a cramp," Francona said. "It set him back in the fact that he didn't pitch, but it's not like he's hurt or anything. We just couldn't let him keep going."

Matsuzaka worked a scoreless sixth inning against the Angels on Monday and took the mound for the seventh. After a few warm-up throws, however, the pitcher left the game because of the cramping. If the pitcher is cleared by the Tribe's medical staff, he might throw off a mound in a bullpen session during Thursday morning's workout.

With five starting pitchers -- Scott Kazmir, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer, Corey Kluber and Matsuzaka -- still jockeying for position in the race for the lone rotation vacancy, Francona said he needed to sit down with pitching coach Mickey Callaway to determine when Matsuzaka would pitch next. When Matsuzaka does pitch in a game again, he will most likely work four innings.

"That's probably where we're going to go," Francona said. "We've got innings issues coming forward, so that's why we're going to sift through that the next couple of days to see where and when we do it."

Through four Cactus League appearances, including Monday's one-inning effort, the 32-year-old Matsuzaka has posted a 2.25 ERA with three strikeouts, one walk and 10 hits allowed in eight innings. Matsuzaka is in camp on a Minor League contract as a non-roster invitee.

Last season, Matsuzaka went 1-7 with an 8.28 ERA in 11 starts for the Red Sox during his comeback from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. The righty has gone 17-22 with a 5.53 ERA in 56 games over the past four seasons after going 33-15 with a 3.72 in 61 games between the 2007-08 campaigns with Boston.

Cabrera returns to Indians after stint with Venezuela

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Asdrubal Cabrera returned to the clubhouse and the starting lineup for the Indians on Wednesday, following a stint with Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic.

Indians manager Terry Francona was thrilled to have the shortstop back in Arizona.

"I'd like to get everybody back," Francona said with a laugh. "I haven't figured out a way to have every WBC team lose, but it's nice to have guys back."

Venezuela was ousted from the tournament after going 1-2 as part of Pool C, which sent Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic to the next round. Cabrera, playing in the international tournament for the first time, went 1-for-8 at the plate with two walks, three strikeouts and one run scored in three games for his country.

Cleveland still has four players -- infielder Mike Aviles (Puerto Rico), pitcher Vinnie Pestano (USA), catcher Carlos Santana (Dominican Republic) and pitcher Giovanni Soto (Puerto Rico) -- participating in the Classic. Puerto Rico faced Italy in Pool 2 at 7 p.m. ET on Wednesday, and Team USA and the D.R. will square off at 7 p.m. ET on Thursday.

During Team USA's 7-1 win over Puerto Rico on Tuesday night, Pestano faced Aviles in the seventh inning. Aviles, who is a utility player for Cleveland, drilled a pitch into center field for a single and smiled wide as he rounded first base. Pestano (two scoreless innings so far in the Classic) finished the frame unscathed.

Their teammates back in Arizona were paying attention, though.

Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis -- Pestano's spring housemate -- took to Twitter to give his friend some grief.

Kipnis (@TheJK_Kid) wrote: "@Themikeaviles just hit the hardest ball I've seen in awhile. Some bum must've been on the mound serving them up. @VinnieP52 #textbookswing."

Quote to note

"With this ballclub here, there are no guarantees. We don't know what our record is going to be, but I do think that it's going to be fun to do it with this group and see how good we can get. I can already tell that."
--Indians manager Terry Francona

Smoke signals

• Indians closer Chris Perez (right shoulder strain) played catch up to a distance of 90 feet during Wednesday's workout. It marked Perez's third throwing session as part of his gradual progression back to mound activity. The Indians have not ruled Perez out for Opening Day.

• The Indians have a "B" game scheduled against the Mariners for Thursday morning at Cleveland's complex. Right-hander Corey Kluber, who is vying for a rotation job, is scheduled to pitch for the Tribe, along with Cody Allen, Rich Hill, Matt Capps and Scott Barnes.

• Indians designated hitter Mark Reynolds returned to the starting lineup for Wednesday's game against the White Sox, serving as the DH and batting sixth for the Tribe. Reynolds had been sidelined since March 6 because of back stiffness.

• The Indians released their version of the "Harlem Shake" Internet craze -- organized by Nick Swisher and approved by manager Terry Francona, who took part -- at 12:30 p.m. ET on tribevibe.mlblogs.com. The site received more than 34,000 page views in the first four hours.

• The Indians will host a select-a-seat event from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET on Saturday at Progressive Field. Fans interested in season, group or party-area tickets for the upcoming season will have a chance to test drive available seats.

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.