Carmona's career at a crossroads
Right-hander showing signs of reclaiming 2007 form
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Devoid of tangible evidence, the best you can do is look for signs.The Indians would be crazy to provide unambiguous assurances that Fausto Carmona will return to some semblance of his 2007 form this season. After all, when one examines the body of work turned in by the 26-year-old Carmona in three-plus seasons at the Major League level, his fourth-place finish in the Cy Young Award voting that year looks more like the exception than the rule. So you look for signs. The first was Carmona getting through three starts in the Dominican Winter League without walking anybody. The second was Carmona reporting to spring camp and not looking like he had frequented every Taco Bell from here to Santo Domingo. And a few more emerged Wednesday night, when Carmona worked four innings against the Reds in a Cactus League game at Goodyear Ballpark and, after allowing an early run in the first, settled in with his sinker to get ground-ball double plays in the second and fourth innings. "I was keeping the ball down," Carmona said of this latest effort. "I'm looking to throw strikes, get the ball down and make a ground ball. I'm not trying to do too much, just stay calm." One never knows how much value to place on spring performance, and that's especially true in Carmona's case. He might have had a spare tire around his belly when he arrived at the Player Development Complex last year, but his 4-1 record and 2.67 ERA in Cactus League play were hardly tell-tale precursors to all the ugliness that wound up defining his '09 season. All that can be said with certainty is that Carmona looks to be in better shape, after working with a personal trainer over the winter, and he's also in a good frame of mind, showing no ill-effects from an embarrassing demotion to the lowest level of the Minor Leagues last season. "His demeanor has been good," general manager Mark Shapiro said. "Physically, he's better than when he got in here last year. But that's not going to be enough." Not with all the Indians have riding on Carmona, both this year and beyond.
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Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.