WINTER HAVEN, Fla. -- The Indians aren't blind to the numbers top prospect Adam Miller has been putting up this spring. But they're also not blind to the benefits of easing a talented young player such as Miller toward the bigs, one step at a time. And so, the 22-year-old Miller isn't likely to leapfrog Fausto Carmona and grab the job of replacing an injured Cliff Lee in the Tribe's rotation at the start of the season, no matter Miller's eye-catching Grapefruit League numbers.
"Coming in here, Fausto Carmona was our sixth starter," general manager Mark Shapiro said. "Based on a wealth of information coming into camp, it was his job to lose. And he's done nothing to lose that job." Carmona, who was scheduled to start Friday's rained-out game against the Nationals and will now start on Saturday against the Rays, has made three starts this spring, the last two of which have been particularly impressive efforts against the Yankees. He's gone 2-1 with a 4.50 ERA, giving up three runs on five hits in six innings. "I've been really happy with Fausto," manager Eric Wedge said. "He's a little further along [than Miller] in terms of things you need to have as a Major League pitcher." Still, Miller isn't far behind. All he's done in three outings is pitch nine scoreless innings, allowing five hits and striking out four. And he's done so despite not having what he considers to be a particularly strong slider.
"I'm just attacking hitters, not giving into them," Miller said. "Besides one start against the Tigers, the only pitch I've really had is my fastball. So I just attack with my strength and let them get themselves out." It's a mentality he'll take with him to Triple-A Buffalo at the outset of the season, though the Indians are quick to say Miller might help their rotation this year. "Adam can't do much more now than what he's done," Wedge said. "Having said that, he has things to work on, like any young pitcher. But obviously, he's very advanced." Aubrey in pain: First baseman Michael Aubrey, whose body has been ravaged by injuries virtually from the time the Indians took him with their first pick in the 2003 First-Year Player Draft, is hurting again. Aubrey suffered a mild hamstring strain while running to first base in Wednesday's split-squad game against the Blue Jays. He is listed as day-to-day. The Indians optioned Aubrey, who hit .250 (4-for-16) in eight Grapefruit League games this spring, down to Double-A Akron on Thursday. "[The injury] had nothing to do with him being sent down," farm director Ross Atkins said. "He was going to be sent down the next day, regardless." Aubrey has played in just 42 Minor League games over the past two seasons, because of knee and back injuries. Slow and steady: Trot Nixon, coming back from offseason back surgery, hasn't quite been the scrappy hustler he's been known to be thus far in camp, but Wedge said he's seen signs of improvement. "I look at him from where he was [at the beginning of camp] and where he is now, and his gait is better," Wedge said. "He's a little more fluid. He's coming back." Nixon has played three games in right and one at the DH spot, getting one hit in nine at-bats. Wedge believes Nixon will be ready to go by Opening Day. "I'm confident and optimistic he'll be ready," Wedge said, "as long as he keeps moving forward and doesn't have any setbacks." Bruised but not beaten: Mike Rouse, who's in the thick of the fight for the Indians' utility infield job, really can't afford an injury right now, so he couldn't have been too happy when the Rays' Seth McClung hit him on the right foot with a fastball on Thursday night. Rouse had to come out of the game, but X-rays were not required. He was not in the starting lineup for Friday's game, but he would have been available off the bench. "He's gonna be OK," Wedge said. "He's moving around out there." From cornfields to ballfields: Pat Corrales, former Indians manager and current bench coach for the Nationals, is still amazed Torey Lovullo is involved in baseball. Lovullo, the manager at Buffalo, has family roots in the entertainment business. His father, Sam, was the long-time producer of the popular, country-influenced variety show "Hee Haw." "That's not what you'd expect from an Italian guy," Corrales joked. In 1996, Lovullo's father wrote a book, titled "Life in the Kornfield," about his 25 years working on the show. Special events: Jacobs Field will be opened to the public from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. ET on March 31 for an event in which fans can purchase tickets to home games, buy concession items for just $1, visit the brand new Heritage Park, visit Kids Zone and receive a free promotional item. And for the second straight year, love will be in the air at the ballpark, as the Indians will host another "Ultimate Wedding Giveaway" contest. Couples in the wedding-planning stages can register at Indians.com until April 16 for the opportunity to win a Sept. 17 ceremony at home plate, a dress for the bride and tuxedo for the groom, wedding bands, cake, bridal flowers, a DJ and a reception for up to 200 people. The top three finalists will be announced April 17, and fans will vote for the winner until June 2. On deck: Carmona will get the 1:05 p.m. start against Casey Fossum and the Rays on St. Patrick's Day. Jeremy Sowers, who was originally scheduled to start Saturday's game before Friday's rainout, will instead pitch in a Triple-A game against Toledo in Lakeland.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.