Kazmir makes Indians team, ready to contribute

TORONTO -- The Indians planned on adding left-hander Scott Kazmir to their rotation prior to his outing on Saturday, but instead, they took that step a few days earlier than anticipated. The move comes in the wake of a minor abdominal injury suffered by the starting pitcher.

On Tuesday, Cleveland selected Kazmir's contract from Triple-A Columbus, adding the team's fifth starter to the Opening Day roster. To clear a spot on the active roster, the Indians optioned left-handed reliever Nick Hagadone to Triple-A.

Assistant general manager Mike Chernoff -- in Toronto for the season-opening set with the Blue Jays -- explained that the move was aimed at protecting the ballclub in the event that Kazmir, who tweaked an abdominal muscle while playing catch during Monday's workout, is unable to make his first scheduled start on Saturday.

"Obviously it's a little bit of a strange move coming on our opener," Chernoff said. "The reason for it is that Scott felt some discomfort. He threw his side session and felt a little discomfort in sort of the rib cage or abdomen region, so he'll be questionable. With some uncertainty about Saturday's start, we wanted to add him to the roster."

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By putting Kazmir on the active roster now, they can backdate any possible stint on the disabled list to Tuesday.

Chernoff would not speculate which Triple-A starter might replace Kazmir if the lefty does need a stint on the disabled list. If he's feeling better Wednesday, Kazmir will throw a bullpen session. Following that workout, the Indians will likely have a better idea about Kazmir's status for Saturday's game against the Rays.

Potential replacements could include Daisuke Matsuzaka, Corey Kluber or Trevor Bauer, who are all at Triple-A Columbus.

"The hope is that he'll go out and throw his side [session] tomorrow and pitch Saturday," manager Terry Francona said on Tuesday. "In case that isn't the case, we have contingency plans."

Kazmir, 29, earned the fifth spot of the rotation as a non-roster invitee for the Indians this spring, allowing nine runs (eight earned) on 29 hits with 23 strikeouts and only three walks in 21 innings, which covers four Cactus League appearances and a pair of Minor League outings.

From 2005-08, Kazmir was a standout starter for Tampa Bay, going 45-34 with a 3.51 ERA over 689 2/3 innings and 742 strikeouts, including a league-leading 239 in '07. Kazmir then went 19-24 with a 5.54 ERA in 55 outings between 2009-11. After he went 0-5 with a 17.02 ERA in five starts at Triple-A Salt Lake in '11, he was released by the Angels.

Kazmir pitched for the Sugar Land Skeeters in the independent Atlantic League last season and for Carolina in the Puerto Rican Winter League over the offseason. He inked a Minor League contract with the Tribe during the winter and displayed a fastball in the 90-92-mph range this spring.

Hagadone, 27, posted a 0.93 ERA in 9 2/3 Cactus League innings this spring, helping him initially win a spot in Cleveland's bullpen.

Carrera claimed by Philly; Huff sent to Triple-A

MIL@CLE: Carrera singles to give Tribe lead in sixth

TORONTO -- The Indians knew they were taking a risk when they exposed the fleet-footed Ezequiel Carrera to waivers. The only question seemed to be which club would claim the outfielder.

On Tuesday, the Phillies claimed Carrera off outright waivers, adding him to their 40-man roster. Indians left-hander David Huff, who was designated for assignment on Sunday, cleared waivers and was sent outright to Triple-A Columbus.

"You know what? I'm glad for him," manager Terry Francona said. "That's one of those where, yeah, selfishly [you'd like to still have him], but I'm glad he got a big league job. It's hard not to be happy for somebody."

Carrera would be an ideal fourth outfielder for most teams, considering the speed he offers and the fact that he can play all three outfield positions.

Cleveland, however, has three outfielders in the starting lineup -- left fielder Michael Brantley, center fielder Michael Bourn and right fielder Drew Stubbs -- capable of manning center. The Tribe also boasts plenty of speed in the starting lineup. First baseman Nick Swisher can also play right field, if needed, and utility men Mike Aviles and Ryan Raburn can also help in the outfield corners.

Those factors made it difficult for the 25-year-old Carrera, who is out of Minor League options, to crack Cleveland's Opening Day roster. This spring, he hit .279 with one home run, three RBIs, eight runs and 11 stolen bases in 20 Cactus League games. Carrera hit .272 with 11 extra-base hits, eight stolen bases and 20 runs in 48 games for the Tribe in 2012.

Huff went 1-1 with a 5.82 ERA, 15 strikeouts and five walks in 17 Cactus League innings this spring. The 28-year-old spent most of last season at Triple-A, but he went 3-1 with a 3.38 ERA in 26 2/3 innings for Cleveland in 2012. For his career, the lefty is 18-26 with a 5.30 ERA in 55 big league games for the Indians.

Allen soaks in Opening Day ceremonies in Toronto

TORONTO -- Things have changed drastically for Indians reliever Cody Allen in the past year.

Allen earned a spot in Cleveland's bullpen this spring and was on hand at Rogers Centre for the club's Opening Day tilt with the Blue Jays. Toronto's cavernous domed ballpark was expecting a sellout crowd, providing quite a contrast to Allen's Opening Day experience last season.

Allen was with Class A Carolina for Opening Day in 2012.

"I think there were a few fireworks or something like that," Allen said with a laugh.

Needless to say, the 24-year-old pitcher planned on soaking in every moment of Tuesday's season opener.

"I'm super excited," Allen said. "It'd be nice if it was at home, but being here in Toronto, there's a lot of buzz with them with their offseason acquisition, and with us with our offseason acquisitions. It's here in the dome. It's going to be loud. It's going to be fun."

Allen is one of three Cleveland players experiencing Opening Day in the Major Leagues for the first time. Third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall and right-handed starter Zach McAllister were also on a big league roster to start a season for the first time in their careers.

"It's definitely another thing that I've always wanted to be able to do," McAllister said with a smile. "To be able to check that one off the list is pretty exciting. We're ready. I think everyone is ready to get out of Arizona and get the season started. Spring Training was longer this year, and I think everyone is anxious and excited to see what can happen."

Allen agreed that it was great to finally start the season.

"Anywhere you're at," Allen said, "whether it's college, high school, you've been waiting the whole offseason, the whole spring, you've been waiting for Opening Day. You're waiting for the season to start. That's today. We're excited to get it under way."

Smoke signals

• Indians players have been sporting shirts that say "Awesome Amazingness" across the chest for the past couple of days. The phrase stems from a quote that first baseman Nick Swisher gave during an interview with a television reporter during Spring Training. Asked to define the saying, Francona laughed.

"That's Swish's personality," said Francona. "I mean, if you need a little pick-me-up, just go spend five minutes with him and you'll feel like you're good to go."

• Cleveland's Opening Day roster this season looks much different than it did one year ago. There are 14 new members on the Opening Day roster -- including 11 offseason acquisitions -- compared to the group that began the 2012 season with the Tribe.

• The Indians will play their first six games of this season on artificial turf between the back-to-back three-game road sets against the Blue Jays and Rays. Cleveland will play the rest of the season (156 games) in natural-grass stadiums.

Quote to note

"Our expectations today are the same that they've been everywhere else I've been. We're trying to win tonight. I think that's the best way to go about it. When you start trying to do other things, that's when outside expectations or pressure gets in the way."
-- Francona