Indians option House to narrow rotation battle

Indians option House to narrow rotation battle

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Given how much time TJ House missed last season with a shoulder injury, a lot of things would have needed to happen this spring for the left-hander to open the season in the Indians' rotation. The stars did not align for House, who was optioned to Triple-A Columbus on Monday.

"He was pretty realistic about it," manager Terry Francona said. "I kind of showed him the board. I said, 'You missed so much time last year. When you look at that board, it's kind of hard to just jump you ahead of those guys right now, but if you do what you do, you've pitched for us before and it was plenty good, you'll do that again.' And I fully believe that, and I think he does, too."

With House out of the mix, the battle for the fifth rotation spot is down to right-handers Josh Tomlin and Cody Anderson.

Indians Spring Training info

House, 26, posted a 5.59 ERA this spring in four games, including four shutout frames against the Mariners on Sunday. The lefty had a 3.35 ERA in 19 games for the Tribe in 2014, but his '15 campaign was marred by a left rotator cuff issue. House went 0-4 with a 13.15 ERA to open last season before being shut down for the remainder of the Major League season.

"He's got a very promising career ahead of that," Francona said. "I didn't want him for one minute to think we forgot about that. ... He needs to find some consistency. It was nice to see him throw like he did [Sunday], but repetition will be really good for him."

Worth noting
• Veteran Marlon Byrd, who signed a Minor League contract on Friday, went 0-for-3 in his first Cactus League game against Seattle as a designated hitter on Sunday. Byrd was back in the lineup for Monday's tilt against the White Sox as the Indians' right fielder.

"It was good," said Byrd, who estimated that he needed roughly 15 at-bats to gain a comfort level with his swing and timing. "I felt good. My timing was little late in the first at-bat, but I fixed it in my second at-bat. In my third at-bat, I was a little bit jumpy. It's going to take a couple more games."

• First baseman Mike Napoli was scheduled to play on Monday, but he was sent home due to illness and Jesus Aguilar replaced him in the lineup. A long list of players and coaches have dealt with some kind of sickness at various points throughout this spring. Quipped Francona: "When I'm feeling the best here, we're in trouble."

• Cleveland is holding a simulated game on Wednesday in order to allow left-handed bullpen candidates Ross Detwiler, Tom Gorzelanny and Joe Thatcher to face lefty hitters. Tomlin is penciled in to work five innings in a Minor League game on Wednesday.

• Right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall has missed the past week of games due to right forearm tightness, but he said on Monday that he is much improved. Chisenhall was planning on heading to the Minor League side on Monday to get more at-bats than a player can get in a Cactus League game.

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.