CLEVELAND — The Indians dodged a big bullet in the bullpen Sunday.
According to manager Terry Francona, setup man Vinnie Pestano (right elbow tendinitis) will not be placed on the disabled list, after all.
Pestano, who hasn’t made an appearance in six games, threw on the side Saturday and Sunday, and the Indians feel he could be back on the mound tonight for the series opener with Oakland.
“He had a real good session (Sunday),” Francona said of Pestano, who owns a 2.25 ERA in eight games this season. “Everything points toward him being OK for (tonight).”
Pestano said he has dealt with elbow soreness at some point in each of the past two seasons, but that this occurrence was worse. He did not sound optimistic about avoiding the DL when he spoke with reporters Saturday.
In the wake of the positive Pestano news, the Indians still added relief depth by recalling left-hander Scott Barnes from Triple-A Columbus. To make room on the roster, Cleveland designated outfielder Ezequiel Carrera for assignment.
Carrera had just rejoined the Indians after being claimed off waivers from the Phillies. If he clears waivers, Carrera will likely accept an assignment at Columbus.
Barnes is back with Cleveland for the second time this season after serving as the 26th man in a doubleheader April 28 at Kansas City. He didn’t allow a hit and struck out four over two innings Sunday.
Center fielder Michael Bourn (right index finger laceration) is finally set to begin a minor league rehab assignment tonight at Columbus.
Francona said he expects Bourn to appear in three rehab games before his return. He’s scheduled to play center field today for seven innings, followed by nine innings as the designated hitter and nine innings back in center.
Bourn has missed 17 games since landing on the DL on April 15.
“I’ll just be trying to get my timing back as quick as I can,” Bourn said.
Cleveland’s offense has performed well in the absence of Bourn, the leadoff man who is hitting .333 with two home runs and two RBIs in 10 games.
“I always knew we had a good offensive team,” Bourn said. “I just came along to help get the engine started.”
A new man
After earning his first win since 2010 on Saturday, left-hander Scott Kazmir was asked to compare himself to his All-Star days in Tampa Bay in 2006 and ’08.
“I feel like I’m better,” said Kazmir, who posted double-digit win totals for the Rays each season from 2005-08. “I’m a little more mature. When things don’t go right, it’s not the end of the world.”
Kazmir, 29, is attempting to make a comeback after making just one big league appearance in 2011 and spending last season in an independent league. He is optimistic about his chances.
“I never thought it would come this fast,” he said.
The Indians wrap up the homestand with a four-game series against Oakland that begins tonight at 7:05.
Ubaldo Jimenez (1-2, 7.13 ERA) opens the set for Cleveland, opposing RHP Jarrod Parker (1-4, 7.36), while Zach McAllister (2-3, 3.30) starts Tuesday (7:05 p.m.) against LHP Tommy Milone (3-3, 3.69).
Justin Masterson (4-2, 3.64) goes Wednesday (7:05 p.m.) for the Indians against RHP A.J. Griffin (3-2, 3.79), with Kazmir (1-1, 6.28) pitching the finale Thursday (12:05 p.m.) and Oakland countering with RHP Bartolo Colon (3-1, 3.62).
- Right-hander Blake Wood made his first appearance since undergoing reconstructive elbow surgery prior to last season, allowing a run on a hit and two walks in two-thirds of an inning Saturday for Double-A Akron.
- Tyler Naquin, Cleveland’s first-round draft pick last year — 15th overall — entered Sunday batting .297 with eight doubles, two homers and 14 RBIs in 28 games for High-A Carolina.
- The Indians entered Sunday ranked second in the American League with 39 home runs. They’re fourth in the majors behind 40 from the Yankees, Braves and Rockies.
- The Indians entered Sunday ranked first in the majors in slugging percentage (.474), third in batting average (.275), fourth in homers (39) and extra-base hits (103) and fifth in on-base percentage (.342).
- Cleveland is 3-12 when scoring fewer than three runs.