Notes: Borowski no longer a 'sleeper'

Notes: Borowski no longer a 'sleeper'

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. -- Joe Borowski was in the middle of a meeting with general manager Mark Shapiro and manager Eric Wedge last month when he was given the news.

"They just said, 'In a note that pertains to you, Keith [Foulke] has decided to retire,'" Borowski recalled. "I was taken back."

That's how Borowski officially became the Indians closer. But he said he hasn't changed anything about his spring approach in the three weeks since Foulke's announcement. In fact, Borowski said, coming into camp, he wasn't even worried about being in a competition with Foulke for the ninth-inning duties.

"Maybe six or seven years ago, I would have," he said. "Back then, I worried about everything I couldn't control."

Borowski was in control Tuesday against the Yankees. He threw a scoreless third inning, aided heavily by center fielder Grady Sizemore's outstanding diving catch of a Derek Jeter line drive for the third out.

"Last year, I didn't see much of that [with the Marlins]," Borowski said of Sizemore's play. "I'm no strikeout pitcher, so I could get used to that. That's real nice."

That Borowski was even on the mound for his second appearance this early in Grapefruit League action is a positive sign. With his history of shoulder problems, he said he's often been held back in the first two weeks of spring games.

"I started throwing a little earlier this year," he said. "I threw maybe a couple extra bullpens in the offseason. Normally, it will take you a couple bullpens before you get a feel for things. Now, I'm anxious to get going. I'm definitely feeling good."

Borowski is also feeling pretty good about his job status with the Tribe. This marks the second season in a row that he's gone through camp knowing he'd be a club's closer.

That's a far cry from the early portion of Borowski's career, which saw him bounce around in near anonymity in the Minor League systems of the Orioles, Braves, Yankees and Brewers. He even spent the 2000 season pitching in the independent Atlantic League and the Mexican League.

"I don't want to sound like sour grapes," Borowski said, "but I was overshadowed. You'd always see the top prospects' list in Baseball America, and then in the 'Sleeper' section, you'd see 'Joe Borowski.' That was the story."

Borowski's story is quite a bit different now.

"It makes you appreciate what you've earned," he said. "It gives me personal satisfaction."

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Getting better all the time: Cliff Lee has a new appreciation for abdominal muscles.

"You don't realize how much you use them," Lee said, "until you get hurt there."

Fortunately for the Indians, Lee's strained right abdominal doesn't appear to be serious enough to cost him any time in the regular season. He was held out of a scheduled Grapefruit League start last week, but he played catch Sunday and Monday, and is currently scheduled to resume throwing off the mound Thursday.

"Every day, it's been feeling a little bit better," Lee said. "I hope that continues."

Lee missed the first two months of the '03 season with a lower abdominal strain and a sports hernia. So when he first felt pain in his abs this spring, he knew to take the cautious approach.

"This one wasn't major," he said. "But I didn't want it to linger on."

The Indians don't yet have a timetable for Lee to throw in an exhibition game.

Hurting hammy: Joe Inglett, a candidate for the Indians' utility infield job, was scratched from the starting lineup against the Yanks because of a left hamstring strain.

Inglett had been the penciled-in starter at third base.

"He's day-to-day right now," Wedge said. "His legs have been a little bit tight. Hopefully, we'll get him back on track by giving him a day or two off."

Carmona improves: After getting roughed up in his first Grapefruit outing against the Phillies, Fausto Carmona was markedly better against the Yankees.

In two scoreless innings, Carmona allowed just a hit and a walk while striking out three. The lineup he was facing was no early spring breeze, either, as Johnny Damon, Jeter, Hideki Matsui and Alex Rodriguez all made the trip to Chain of Lakes.

"He was more under control with his delivery," Wedge said of Carmona. "He did a good job fixing himself at times. We saw a lot of things we wanted to see. This was something for him to work off of."

Tribe tidbits: Travis Hafner started Tuesday's game at first base. Wedge said he hopes to get Pronk a start at first once or twice a week during the Grapefruit League schedule. ... Wedge wasn't all that surprised to see Sizemore lay out for a ball on March 6. "That's the way he plays," Wedge said. "He only plays one way. That's one of the reasons he's such a fantastic player." ... The first workout for Minor League pitchers and catchers was held Tuesday. Position players reported Tuesday, with the first full workouts taking place Thursday. Minor League games are set to begin March 16. ... Hector Luna, manning third base, made another error in the game against the Yanks. It was his fourth defensive miscue in four spring games. ... Tribe director of media relations Bart Swain, a rabid Ohio State Buckeyes fan, was a happy man Tuesday morning. He walked into his office to find an autographed Chris Spielman jersey sitting on his chair. Spielman, a former Ohio State standout and All-Pro linebacker with the Detroit Lions, is in town for "Wahoo Radio Week," broadcasting his Columbus, Ohio, sports talk show on 1460 The Fan from Chain of Lakes Park.

On deck: The Indians will head out to St. Petersburg to face the Devil Rays at 1:05 p.m. ET on Wednesday. Left-hander Jeremy Sowers will make his second start of the spring, opposite right-hander Dan Miceli. Rafael Betancourt, Aaron Fultz, Tom Mastny, Jason Stanford, Matt Miller and Juan Lara will also be available to throw.

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.