Lee to start season on disabled list
Left-hander sidelined by strained right abdominal muscle
Indians manager Eric Wedge acknowledged the news on Lee is a setback, but the Indians saw it coming over the last few days, as the injury lingered."Obviously, it's something that's been progressing and we've been keeping an eye on," Wedge said. "It's not a shock because it's been a process. That's why it's so important to have depth." As for that depth, it begins with Carmona, who started Sunday's Grapefruit League game against the Yankees. Carmona had eventful '06, starting in place of the injured Sabathia, excelling as a setup man, getting knocked around as a closer and, finally, finishing the year in the rotation. All told, Carmona went 1-10 with a 5.42 ERA in 38 appearances before heading to winter ball to get more innings as a starter. "Fausto is the front-runner," Wedge said of the open rotation spot, "but he's not locked in. He needs to go and take it." The 22-year-old Miller, considered by many to be the top prospect in the organization, could take it from him, based on his early performance in camp. Miller has worked five dominant, scoreless innings over three appearances. But the Indians will be careful not to rush Miller, who has only made one start at Triple-A Buffalo. "We need to focus on his development," Wedge said of Miller. "We need to weigh everything out, but his development is a priority." Slocum, 25, made a nice impression on the organization in two starts at the tail end of the '06 season, when he went 0-0 with a 1.80 ERA against the Rangers and Devil Rays. This spring, however, he was held up by a sore left hamstring. He made his first appearance in an exhibition game on Saturday, pitching a scoreless inning against the Reds. "We still have to make sure he stays on track physically," Wedge said of Slocum. Now that he knows the abdominal injury will be costing him the start of the season, Lee is going to make sure he makes changes to what he thought was a reliable offseason conditioning program. "I did pretty much the same thing I have done the last three years," Lee said. "I thought I had a good offseason program figured out, but with this coming up again, there is something I need to do different to prevent this from happening again. I need to make this a learning experience to modify for next offseason."
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.