CLEVELAND -- The Indians have altered their starting rotation in an effort to keep ace Fausto Carmona on a regular five-day schedule.
"Fausto is going to be pitching every five days," Indians manager Manny Acta said on Friday. "He likes to do that and we're more than welcome to do that for him."
Carmona is now scheduled to start on Sunday, when the Tribe wraps up its three-game home series against Baltimore. As part of the rotation realignment, right-hander Mitch Talbot, whose turn would have fallen on Sunday, has been pushed back to Tuesday in Kansas City.
"Talbot is a guy who spent some time on the DL," said Acta, referring to the back strain that sidelined the pitcher last August. "And he had a game where he threw over 100 pitches. We just wanted to push him back two days, give him two extra days of rest."
Right-hander Carlos Carrasco will now pitch on Monday in Kansas City, as opposed to going as originally planned on Tuesday.
Entering this season, Acta noted that he did not want to skip any starters in the rotation if at all possible. The manager said this week's switch was less about altering the initial plan and more about meeting Carmona's wish to start every fifth day for the Indians.
"There's no departure from any plan," Acta said. "At the beginning of the season, [we said] we don't like to skip guys. But a guy like him, who's healthy and strong and can pile up all those innings, he's our No. 1 and he feels better pitching every five days. We'll do that for him."
Slumping Santana sits, but stays positive
CLEVELAND -- Carlos Santana has no issues with being in the lineup on a daily basis. Five consecutive days behind the plate. Batting cleanup for nearly two weeks straight. The young Indians catcher welcomes such treatment.
"I like it," Santana said with a grin.
On Friday, Santana finally got a day off. After playing in each of Cleveland's first 12 games, and recently slipping into a slump at the plate, Indians manager Manny Acta decided it was time to give the catcher some rest.
With an off-day on Thursday, and Orioles left-hander Zach Britton on the mound for Friday's series opener between the Orioles and the Indians at Progressive Field, Acta thought this an appropriate time to shift Santana to the bench. Lou Marson got the nod behind the plate for the Tribe.
"He's struggled the last five games," Acta said of Santana. "We tried to put these two days off together just so he can clear his mind, and also to give Lou an opportunity to play."
Santana entered Friday mired in an 0-for-20 skid at the plate. Over the past five games, the 25-year-old backstop's season average has sunk to .205 from .346. Santana's lone home run came on Opening Day, and he has not driven in a run since April 8.
"It's normal," Santana said with a shrug. "Everybody goes through it. I haven't been hitting the last five games, but it's only five games. I'm staying positive right now. I'm trying to help the team and help the pitchers from behind the plate. This happens."
Acta also did not sound worried, though the manager does believe Santana was beginning to press in the batter's box.
"It's just one of those things," Acta said. "Just five games ago, he was hitting over .300. It's so early. Five games later, he struggled a little bit. Then, they try to get three or four hits in one at-bat and that's impossible.
"He was getting out of his comfort zone. He was chasing some pitches that usually he doesn't chase, just trying to get the hits. But he'll be fine. He took extra hitting today and these two days off, just to clear his mind, will help."
Smith's return makes Indians 'pen stronger
CLEVELAND -- The Indians' bullpen has proved to be one of the club's strongest assets early on this season and the Tribe is hoping the return of sidearmer Joe Smith will only make things better.
On Friday, Cleveland activated the right-handed Smith from the 15-day disabled list, as expected. The Indians optioned righty Frank Herrmann to Triple-A Columbus on Thursday to vacate a spot for Smith.
"There's no question that Smitty pitched good for us last year," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "He's got some Major League experience, and he's going to help us."
Smith, 27, went 2-2 with a 3.83 ERA in 53 relief appearances for Cleveland last season. Over his final 41 outings of the season -- 37 of which were scoreless efforts -- Smith fashioned a 2.40 ERA for the Tribe.
During the offseason, Smith avoided arbitration and signed a one-year contract worth $870,000 with the Indians. He appeared in five Cactus League games this spring, but was shut down after his March 9 outing due to a strained upper abdominal muscle.
Smith was assured a role when he was back at full strength.
The decision to send down Herrmann, who had allowed four earned runs in 4 1/3 innings so far this season, likely stemmed from the fact that he has Minor League options remaining. The other candidate was probably righty Justin Germano, who does not have options. That means Germano would need to clear waivers before he could be sent to the Minors.
"We had to get Smitty over here," Acta said. "There are different things that play into it. ... Herrmann wasn't sent down because he wasn't doing something that we wanted him to do here. He was sent down because we had to activate Smitty."
Quote to note
"Nobody was questioning it the first five games of the season. Everybody was paying him compliments. And last year when he hit third, nobody complained. If they're questioning it, they can question it the rest of the season, because that's where he's going to hit here." --Indians manager Manny Acta, on batting Carlos Santana cleanup
Indians infielder Jason Donald, who is on the 15-day disabled list with a left hand injury, was in Cleveland on Friday. He is scheduled to resume his Minor League rehab assignment with Triple-A Columbus on Saturday. Donald said he is feeling healthy and the only obstacle left is getting his timing at the plate. ... Center fielder Grady Sizemore (on the 15-day DL with a left knee issue) went 1-for-3 with a home run and a walk for Triple-A Columbus in the first game of a double header against Toledo on Thursday. ... The Indians will have the eighth overall pick in the upcoming First-Year Player Draft, which will be held June 6-8. Cleveland has two other selections (No. 67 and No. 97) within the top 100 picks. Beginning in the fourth and ending in the 50th round, Cleveland will have the seventh selection in each round. ... Indians closer Chris Perez has not allowed a run in 25 innings, dating back to last season. That is the longest active scoreless streak in the Majors. ... The Tribe's pitching staff has posted a 2.47 ERA since Opening Day. The bullpen boasts a 2.08 ERA over that span.