Tomlin could fill rotation and 'pen roles in April

Off-days on schedule will limit need for fifth starter

Tomlin could fill rotation and 'pen roles in April

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Indians pitcher Josh Tomlin is expected to be on the Opening Day roster in some capacity, but Cleveland is still weighing whether that will be as a starter or reliever. For the first month of the season, Tomlin might actually fill both roles.

Having five off-days within the first 29 days of the season will limit the number of times Cleveland needs a full five-man rotation. It is possible that Tomlin could begin the season as the team's fifth starter, with the possibility of sliding to the bullpen on occasion in prolonged stretches when Cleveland needs only four starting pitchers.

Indians Spring Training info

"He could do anything, but I do think our preference is for him to start," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "It's just that handling April can be a challenge, not just for hitters, but for pitchers, too. ... He's got a pretty good chance of handling whatever is thrown at him, probably as good as anybody."

In five Cactus League outings (three starts) this spring, Tomlin has turned in a 7.15 ERA, allowing nine runs on 21 hits in 11 1/3 innings. Francona said he is not worried too much about the right-hander, who had a 3.02 ERA in 10 starts last season and signed a two-year extension over the offseason.

"We feel like he can really help us," Francona said. "Where that ends up being, we may not be quite sure yet. [Five] outings in Spring Training don't change your opinion."

Other items of note from Sunday:

• Francona said he would be a fan of having expanded rosters in April, even if only for the first 10 days or two weeks. The manager believes that having additional players for the start of the season would help maintain depth and ease the workload of starting pitchers early on.

"The pitchers aren't fully stretched out yet," Francona said. "The other thing is ... you have non-roster guys come in, but they all have [opt-out clauses]. So, you're scrambling to get down to 25 and it never fails, two weeks later, because somebody has a bad outing, you're looking for that same guy. If you could, just for a couple weeks, carry a few more guys, I think it would make a lot less transactions."

• When it comes to rosters expanding beyond 25 players in September, Francona is also a fan of the concept of having a daily active roster in the final month. Teams could carry up to 40 players, but only 25 would be eligible for each game.

"I think for September, that's something that needs to [happen]," Francona said. "I've never heard an argument that I agree with on why that shouldn't be. You play for five months with a set of rules. Then, you go into September and it's crazy."

• First baseman Carlos Santana was scratched from Sunday's lineup due to back stiffness, but Francona said it was not considered serious. Right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall (right forearm tightness) remains out of the lineup, but was slated to get at-bats in a Minor League game on Monday.

• Veteran third baseman Juan Uribe sorted out his visa issues in the Dominican Republic and was back with the Indians on Sunday for the morning workout. Francona said that Uribe would return to Cactus League action on Monday against the White Sox.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.