Floyd making strong first impression on Indians

Right-hander is looking to stay healthy, bolster starting rotation

Floyd making strong first impression on Indians

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway has closely monitored a handful of Gavin Floyd's bullpen sessions so far this spring. If Callaway did not already know that the pitcher underwent right elbow surgery last year, he said he would not know it from watching Floyd throw.

"Not at all," Callaway said on Sunday morning. "The first time I saw him was probably five days before camp started. He was out here early throwing bullpens. I was like, 'Wow, this is pretty good.' The ball was coming out great. Good spin on the ball. Good life. Good command."

Having the 32-year-old Floyd back to full strength would be great news for the Indians, who signed the veteran to a one-year contract worth $4 million (plus another $6 million possible through incentives) over the offseason. The club felt it was worth taking a flier on Floyd given his experience and history of consistency in the American League Central.

Floyd adds depth to rotation

Indians manager Terry Francona has hinted more than once that Floyd might even slide as high as second within the rotation, easing some of the pressure on the team's younger arms. As things stand, Corey Kluber projects as the No. 1 starter, Carlos Carrasco and Trevor Bauer are virtual locks for jobs, and Danny Salazar, T.J. House, Zach McAllister and Josh Tomlin are the main candidates for the final spot.

"Obviously, [Floyd] can bring veteran leadership," Callaway said, "and the ability to take some pressure off Carrasco and Bauer and those guys that are feeling like they want to step up. He can also give some quality outings for those guys to compete internally against each other. The more good outings you have, it's contagious.

"The way he goes about his business is unbelievable. He's more of a quiet leader. He's very intentional with everything he does. He's a good, silent leader that does everything the right way."

Last year, Floyd returned from Tommy John surgery, only to sustain a fracture of the olecranon bone in the joint in an outing for the Braves on June 19. The big righty went under the knife on June 25 and missed the remainder of the season. Floyd had a 2.65 ERA in nine starts for Atlanta last year, but he has logged only 78 2/3 innings combined over the past two seasons.

Cleveland is hoping Floyd can return to the type of form he previously displayed with the White Sox, who saw Floyd go 62-56 with a 4.12 ERA across the 2008-12 seasons. Over that five-year span, Floyd averaged 31 starts and 190 innings per year and posted a 108 ERA+ (meaning his production was eight percent above league average).

Early in camp, the Indians are limiting Floyd's use of his curveball -- he only threw five in his most recent mound workout -- but the pitcher is mostly unrestricted. Cleveland is optimistic that he will be able to pitch in a game environment by the second week of March.

"He's looked really impressive," Callaway said. "But we're trying to be smart about it."

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.