TORONTO -- Fifth starter Scott Kazmir says he is able to make his season debut Saturday in Tampa Bay. The Indians say he won’t.
Though Kazmir made it through a 30-pitch bullpen session without incident Wednesday at Rogers Centre, Cleveland is not willing to activate the left-hander after he felt soreness on his right side while playing catch Monday.
“He actually threw the ball pretty well,” manager Terry Francona said of Kazmir’s bullpen session. “Saying that, we’re going to kind of go the cautious course. He probably could have pitched, but common sense says that you get a guy with adrenaline and he lets one fly ... The kid’s worked hard and he made the club. It just didn’t seem to make sense to any of us to do it.”
According to Francona, Kazmir will return to Cleveland and undergo an MRI, and if nothing alarming is discovered, he will join the club Friday in Tampa Bay for the start of a three-game series.
Though Francona said it is not yet a disabled list situation, the Indians did add Kazmir to the 25-man roster Tuesday in order to back date the transaction if he lands on the DL.
Kazmir said prior to the game that though he felt he could go Saturday, he would be comfortable with any decision the team made.
“I would understand, just on the side of caution,” he said. “But the way I felt today, I could pitch Saturday.”
According to Kazmir, the dreaded oblique injury has already been ruled out. Still, it’s a setback for the former Cy Young candidate who is attempting to make a comeback after a year in the independent league last season and just one big-league appearance in 2011.
The injury occurred in strange fashion, with Kazmir feeling discomfort in the side on what he called his 10th warmup toss.
“It was almost like, ‘c’mon,”’ Kazmir said. “I knew it was very minor. I’m staying positive.”
My kinda town
Though he was eager to return to managing, Francona said he was not willing to take any job. Cleveland was a surprise choice for many who thought the two-time world champion would have his pick of prospective managerial positions.
“I missed (managing) but I didn’t miss it enough to take a job that I didn’t think I could be happy,” Francona said. “I was asked a lot, ‘why this?’ The people that asked that probably didn’t know me very well. This is the perfect place for me.”
His ties with general manager Chris Antonetti played a major factor in Francona taking the Cleveland job.
Shortly before the season opener, Francona said he realized how much he wanted to succeed in his new job.
“It hit me how much I already like these guys and how much I don’t want to let Chris (Antonetti) down,” he said. “I got nervous and it didn’t go away.”
The Indians claimed right-hander Robert Whitenack off waivers from the Chicago Cubs and optioned him to Double-A Akron. To make room for Whitenack on the 40-man roster, Cleveland transferred right-hander Frank Herrmann to the 60-day disabled list.
Whitenack, 24, was designated for assignment Monday after going 19-18 with a 4.13 ERA in 69 games (64 starts) over four seasons in the minors.
He underwent Tommy John surgery in 2011.
Closer Chris Perez notched the 100th save of his career Tuesday. He entered Wednesday 39 saves short of the Indians’ all-time leader, Bob Wickman. ... Nick Swisher, Jason Kipnis and Mark Reynolds were the only Indians without a hit in the season opener Tuesday. ... Kipnis celebrated his 26th birthday Wednesday. ... Michael Brantley and his wife Melissa are expecting the couple’s first child. ... Tonight, 7:10, STO, WEOL 930-AM, WTAM 1100-AM. Brett Myers (first start) vs. Mark Buehrle (first start).
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.