CLEVELAND – Indians pitcher Josh Tomlin believes his first trip to the disabled list will be a short one.
The right-hander was put on the shelf Friday with right elbow soreness, retroactive to Aug. 25, but says he has no concerns about missing the rest of the season.
“I feel like having two weeks off will be pretty beneficial for me,” Tomlin said Saturday prior to the Tribe’s game against the Kansas City Royals. “After I have the time to rest it up, I’ll be back for sure.”
Tomlin is eligible to come off the 15-day DL on Sept. 9, which would allow him to make four starts before the regular season ends Sept. 28.
The sooner, the better for Cleveland, which needs him as it attempts to catch the Detroit Tigers in the American League Central Division.
Tomlin owns a 12-7 record with a 4.25 ERA in a team-high 165 1⁄3 innings. He leads the AL in fewest walks per nine innings (1.14) and is tied for ninth in victories, but doesn’t think the heavy workload triggered his injury.
“I threw 180 innings last year, even though (107 1⁄3) were in the minors, so I feel like I’m capable of throwing 200,” the 26-year-old said. “It’s unfortunate this happened, but I really think it’s just some inflammation that came up.”
Not only is this Tomlin’s first DL appearance in the big leagues, it’s his first since turning pro with Single-A Mahoning Valley in 2006. He added this is the initial arm injury he has suffered.
Tomlin said he experienced discomfort throughout his last start, in which he lasted just 4 2⁄3 innings Wednesday in a 9-2 loss to Seattle. That outing also ended his MLB all-time record-tying streak of 37 straight appearances of at least five innings to begin a career.
“Any pitcher who tells you they aren’t sore during the season is lying to you, but I didn’t feel any pain,” Tomlin said, referring to his postgame statement that he wasn’t pitching with an injury. “You’ll have to ask Lonnie (Soloff, trainer) the exact details, but it’s just a strain, nothing serious.
“I’ll probably get on some anti-inflammatories (medicine) and keep icing it for the next two weeks, then I hope to be back out there.”
Center fielder Kosuke Fukudome batted leadoff Saturday for the first time since joining the Indians. His 26 previous starts had come in the 5-6-7 spots in the batting order.
“He’s the perfect guy to have leading off,” manager Manny Acta said. “He’s been there, done that in the past, so he’s doing it again.”
The skipper also praised Fukudome’s defensive contributions since being acquired from the Chicago Cubs on July 27. He has played 16 games in right field and 11 in center with the Tribe.
“Whether he’s in right or center, you never worry about his defense,” Acta said. “We tried going with a platoon for a while when (Shin-Soo) Choo got hurt, but it didn’t work for us. (Fukudome) has stabilized everything in the outfield. He’s been very good for us.”
• Acta also declared Choo fully recovered from his sore left side/back. He was in the lineup for the first time since Tuesday, batting third and playing right field.
• Injured center fielder Grady Sizemore did some pregame outfield work, catching balls hit with a fungo bat. He also took batting practice, prompting Acta to say it “won’t be too long” before he goes on a rehab assignment.
Jack of all trades
Jack Hannahan has been reinstated as Cleveland’s starting third baseman. Acta said the defensive specialist, who is batting .306 in his last 24 games, has earned the spot over rookie Lonnie Chisenhall.
“Jack is swinging the bat well and we’ve got to try to protect our pitchers, so he’ll keep playing a lot,” Acta said.
Chisenhall was given the job upon his promotion from Triple-A Columbus on June 27, but hit only .240 with eight RBIs in his first 40 games.
Hannahan, meanwhile, used his refocus on the task at hand.
“I think he benefitted from not being out there every single day when Lonnie was in there,” Acta said. “He’s fresh now, and he’s gotten back to what he had been doing at the plate earlier in the season.”
Shortstop Luis Valbuena and left fielder Tim Fedroff each had two hits Friday in Columbus’ 2-1 loss to the Indianapolis Indians. Designated hitter Nick Johnson went 1-for-3 to raise his average to .204.
• Right-hander Cory Burns recorded his 33rd save for Double-A Akron in a 7-5 win over the Richmond Flying Squirrels. Catcher Chun Chen allowed his 17th passed ball, but it didn’t figure in the scoring.
• Single-A Lake County dropped a 4-2 decision to the West Michigan Whitecaps despite turning four double plays. Left-handed starter J.D. Reichenbach fell to 7-2 by allowing four runs in five innings.
The Indians are 12-5 when playing in front of 30,000 or more fans this season at Progressive Field, but 23-23 when they draw smaller crowds.
• Cleveland has 34 games over the final 33 days of the season. Its next scheduled off-day is Sept. 12.
Contact Brian Dulik at firstname.lastname@example.org.