GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Indians plan on giving Carlos Carrasco every opportunity to win the fifth spot in their rotation. After an offseason of working on an alteration to his delivery, the right-hander heads into camp as a leading candidate for that job.
"They've lifted his lead arm a little bit," Indians manager Terry Francona said, "just to create a little deception and some angle on his fastball. I know he's comfortable. He's had a good winter. He's strong. He's excited. It's his time to go show what he can do."
As things currently stand, Carrasco joins Josh Tomlin, Trevor Bauer and non-roster invitee Shaun Marcum as the top options for the lone vacancy within the starting staff. Of the three rostered players, the 26-year-old Carrasco is the only one without Minor League options, meaning he would need to be exposed to waivers before potentially being sent to Triple-A.
Indians general manager Chris Antonetti noted over the offseason that Carrasco would be on the Opening Day roster in some capacity, barring an unforeseen development this spring. If the Indians feel one of the other starting candidates is the best option for the rotation, Carrasco could slide into a relief role.
Last season, which was Carrasco's first year back in the big leagues after sitting out 2012 following Tommy John elbow surgery, the right-hander posted a 6.75 ERA in 15 appearances for the Indians. Within that showing, though, Carrasco had a 1.32 ERA with a 0.88 WHIP in 13 2/3 innings as a reliever.
Cleveland is hoping that Carrasco can learn from his experience in the bullpen and carry the mentality over to a starting role.
"I think anybody can learn from anything. That's the whole idea," Francona said. "But he was definitely more aggressive when he came out of the bullpen. If he takes that to the starting mentality -- not taking pitches off, or relaxing -- yeah, definitely [it could help]."
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.