Carmona has to earn the right to fill in for Lee and claim the fifth spot in the rotation, but he's the obvious favorite. Top prospect Adam Miller has been lights-out in camp but has yet to spend significant time in Triple-A, and Brian Slocum is behind schedule a bit after battling through a sore hamstring.
And so the 23-year-old Carmona, who went 1-10 with a 5.42 ERA in 38 big-league appearances last season, is first in line for the job.
"It feels good," he said through interpreter Roberto Hernandez on Sunday. "But I'm not trying to put too much into it or gain from someone else's misfortune. I've got to go out and do what I do."
What Carmona did Sunday was impressive. For the second outing in a row, he stymied a Yankees lineup littered with All-Stars, pitching three scoreless innings in which he allowed just one hit.
"I wanted to work on maintaining a low strike zone and staying down," he said. "I've always been a pitcher that likes to get ground balls."
The Indians want to see Carmona do so by maintaining control of his 97-mph sinking fastball.
"He's obviously a guy that has a lot of ability," manager Eric Wedge said. "He needs to stay in his delivery and pound the zone, be efficient, work ahead, trust his stuff and stay in control out there. We want to see him in good rhythm and tempo. When he does that, his arsenal works for itself."
First cuts: The roster in big-league camp got a little thinner Sunday morning, as outfielder Brad Snyder was optioned to Triple-A Buffalo and left-handers Scott Lewis, Chuck Lofgren and Aaron Laffey and catcher Javier Herrera were re-assigned to Minor League camp.
Snyder, a first-round pick in the 2003 First-Year Player Draft, is looking for a bounce-back year at Buffalo after an often difficult '06 in Double-A Akron. He hit .270 with 18 homers and 72 RBIs, striking out 158 times in 523 at-bats.
Wedge said he liked what he saw from Snyder, who went 2-for-12 in nine Grapefruit League games.
"He made progress toward the end there," Wedge said. "He still has a bright future. He just needs to get loosened up and let his athleticism work for him at the plate."
Lewis, Lofgren and Laffey are all expected to be in the Akron rotation at the outset of the season.
"I like the way they carry themselves," Wedge said. "They have presence on the mound. They're all real different, stuff-wise, but they all use their strengths."
Wedge acknowledged Joe Inglett's chances of breaking with the big-league team aren't looking good.
Inglett is considered part of a four-man mix of players hoping to win the Tribe's utility infield job, but he hasn't played in a week because of a strained left hamstring. Inglett, who was scheduled to do some running to test out the leg Sunday morning, won't be ready to play in a game for at least a couple more days, Wedge said.
"It's gonna be awful tough for him [to make the club]," Wedge said.
Hector Luna, Mike Rouse and Luis Rivas are the others competing for the position.
Back in action:
For a guy who's played just 42 games over the last two Minor League seasons because of various back and knee problems, Michael Aubrey hasn't looked like he carries much rust.
Aubrey, the Tribe's first selection in the 2003 First-Year Player Draft, is getting something the back injury denied him a year ago -- a chance to show what he can do in big-league camp.
In addition to looking fundamentally sound at first base, he's notched three hits, including a double, in nine at-bats.
"I'm just trying to stay positive," Aubrey said. "It makes it easier when you've got a clubhouse full of good guys with positive attitudes. You have to act like you've been there before and make sure you don't make [returning to play] a bigger deal than it is. Otherwise, the game will catch up with you."
Luna has been criticized by Wedge several times in camp for a lack of range. But the manager liked what he saw Sunday, as Luna was moving around much better at second base. "The was his best day of the spring," Wedge said. "He was very active in the field. We need to see more of that." ... Catcher Victor Martinez returned to the field Sunday after battling the flu bug for a couple of days. He was in the starting lineup against the Yankees and went 2-for-4 with a run scored. ... David Dellucci went deep to dead center off Chien-Ming Wang in the first inning. "That ball jumped off his bat," Wedge said. ... After the first round of cuts, the roster in big-league camp now stands at 52, with 25 pitchers, 12 infielders, nine outfielders and six catchers.
The Indians make the trek down to Bradenton to take on the Pirates at 1:05 p.m. ET on Monday. Left-hander Jeremy Sowers will get the start opposite right-hander Tony Armas Jr. Jason Davis, Rafael Perez, Aaron Fultz, Matt Miller, Tony Sipp and Ed Mujica will also pitch in the game, which will not be broadcast on radio or TV, but fans can listen to a live webcast here