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05/25/08 2:04 PM ET

Carmona expected to miss four weeks

Right-hander expected to recover fully from left hip strain

CLEVELAND -- The Indians got the news Sunday on right-hander Fausto Carmona, and it's not as bad as it could have been.

While Carmona will be sidelined for around four weeks, he shouldn't have any lingering effects from what head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff described as a "moderate strain of his left hip."

Soloff said the injury is common in sports, particularly in football and basketball players. But he called the injury "uncommon" for starting pitchers.

Carmona sustained the hip strain Friday night in his start against the Texas Rangers. In the third inning, he appeared to be hobbling as he tried to cover first base on a play at the bag.

He made one pitch to the next batter, Brandon Boggs. But then Soloff and the training staff came to the mound to examine Carmona. He left the game minutes later, and veteran Jorge Julio came on to replace him.

The Indians put Carmona on the 15-day disabled list on Saturday, but they had no information about how serious Carmona's injury until more tests were done. Those tests revealed the strain, which Soloff discussed before the Tribe's game with the Rangers on Sunday.

"He's going to miss approximately four weeks," Soloff said. "He won't play catch for approximately seven days."

Soloff said if the symptoms have subsided, Carmona will start exercising and will start playing catch again after the week is up.

According to Soloff, Carmona's maximum-effort pitching style might have contributed to the injury, which is to a muscle outside the hip and not inside the hip joint. Had Carmona sustained the latter sort of injury, he would have needed more time to recover and his pitching career could have been in jeopardy.

"All of his injury is very superficial, which is a good thing," Soloff said. "Once it heals, he'll be fine."

So the Indians exhale now after hearing this bit of good news.

They have other good news, too: They have a ready replacement for Carmona in right-hander Jake Westbrook.

Westbrook is on the 15-day disabled list with a rib injury, and after a couple of rehab assignments, he was scheduled to come off any day. The Tribe would have needed to drop one of its starters -- probably left-hander Aaron Laffey -- to accommodate Westbrook's return to its rotation.

Now, manager Eric Wedge can just slide Westbrook into Carmona's old spot in the rotation and keep Laffey, one of the surprises of the season, in his current role.

Justice B. Hill is a senior writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.