© 2011 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

02/21/11 7:45 PM ET

Acta exercising caution with Hafner

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Indians manager Manny Acta plans on keeping a close eye on Travis Hafner's workload this season. The designated hitter has been hindered by a nagging right shoulder issue for parts of the past three seasons.

"We're going to have to monitor is volume," Acta said. "We don't want to run him down to the ground way too early. I think throughout camp we're going to get a better feel of how he is physically and then I'll get together with our medical staff and see."

Acta said he may implement a similar plan to the one he used down the stretch last season. After the 33-year-old Hafner returned from the disabled list in August, Acta tried not to use him in more than four consecutive games.

Hafner responded well to the altered routine, hitting .329 in the second half and .302 after being activated from the DL. Overall, Hafner finished last season hitting .278 with 13 home runs, 29 doubles and 50 RBIs over 118 games for the Indians. It marked his most games played since appearing in 152 in 2007.

"He did very well at the end of the season, when we monitored his playing time," Acta said.

Acta noted that Hafner will likely receive some days off when the Indians face a tough left-handed pitcher. Outfielders Austin Kearns and Shelley Duncan, along with switch-hitting catcher Carlos Santana, could present options to spell Hafner as the DH on days when he is out of the lineup.

Tomlin ready for tough rotation battle

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Like any player, Josh Tomlin would undoubtedly prefer to have a guaranteed spot on the Opening Day roster. That does not mean the Indians' pitcher is dreading the rotation battle that is brewing this spring.

Tomlin believes the old adage that competition brings out the best in people.

"I think it does," Tomlin said on Monday. "I think it gets us ready, not only individually, but as a team. Everybody is competing for a job, and you've got to go out there and do your best, starting on Day 1."

Tomlin is competing against Jeanmar Gomez, David Huff, Aaron Laffey and Anthony Reyes for the vacant fifth-starter's job. Tomlin got a taste of the big leagues last year, making 12 starts for Cleveland, and the 26-year-old right-hander is hoping to use what he learned during that stint with the Tribe.

This spring, Tomlin said his focus is on throwing first-pitch strikes with all his pitches and consistently repeating his delivery. He noted that he would sometimes rush through his pitching motion, especially when working out of the stretch, throughout last season with Triple-A Columbus and Cleveland.

"I don't have overpowering stuff," he said. "So I've got to be able to throw strike one with any pitch that I have. I think that's the biggest thing for me, being able to come in here and know that I've got to command all four pitches for strikes."

Tomlin, who went 6-4 with a 4.56 ERA last season for the Indians after going 8-4 with a 2.68 ERA in 20 games at Triple-A last year, will get the ball on Sunday, when Cleveland opens its Cactus League schedule at home against the Reds. It will be the pitcher's first crack at the spring competition.

"This is my first big league camp," Tomlin said. "So I'm not really sure how they'd go in the past. I don't know any other way but trying to come in here and make the team."

Tribe's plan for White includes more seasoning

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Even if Alex White pieces together an incredible showing for the Indians this spring, the right-handed pitching prospect is not going to break camp as a part of Cleveland's starting rotation.

"Alex White is not competing for our rotation," Indians manager Manny Acta said on Monday. "There's some development to do there."

Right now, the rotation's fifth spot is up for grabs with Josh Tomlin, Jeanmar Gomez, David Huff, Aaron Laffey and Anthony Reyes as the candidates. Cleveland believes White -- selected in the first round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft -- is nearly ready for the Majors, but he is not in the plans for the Opening Day roster.

"We feel that he's very close," Acta said. "But we just don't think there are going to be enough innings in there [this spring]. If you put Alex White in there, then we'd have like six guys competing for that fifth spot. That's not fair.

"He's pretty close, and we feel very confident that he's going to contribute to our Major League club at some point."

Last season, the 22-year-old White split his first professional season between Class A Kinston and Double-A Akron and went 10-10 with a 2.45 ERA, striking out 117 and walking 46 over 150 2/3 innings. He earned the Indians' Bob Feller Award as the organization's Minor League Pitcher of the Year.

As things currently stand, White projects to open this season with Triple-A Columbus.

"Alex is a guy that continues to work on his secondary pitches," Acta said. "Let's be fair. This guy hasn't even thrown a pitch in Triple-A yet. We want to make sure that, when we bring these guys up, they're good to go and we don't have to be sending them down to get some more fine-tuning."

Smoke signals

Indians outfielder Trevor Crowe is slightly behind the rest of his teammates and will be held out of the intrasquad games on Thursday and Friday, according to manager Manny Acta. Crowe underwent arthroscopic surgery to remove loose bodies from his right elbow in October. It is possible that Crowe will be held out of the first few Cactus League games, which begin on Sunday for the Indians. ... Pitchers scheduled to throw in Thursday's intrasquad game include Justin Masterson (starting), Josh Tomlin (starting), Kelvin De La Cruz, Jeanmar Gomez, Nick Hagadone, David Huff, Joe Smith, Doug Mathis and Drew Pomeranz. ... Pitchers scheduled to throw in Friday's intrasquad game include Carlos Carrasco (starting), Mitch Talbot (starting), Josh Judy, Frank Herrmann, Aaron Laffey, Jensen Lewis, Yohan Pino, Anthony Reyes, Tony Sipp, Jess Todd, Zach McAllister, Joe Martinez, Bryce Stowell and Vinnie Pestano. ... Tomlin is slated to start the Cactus League opener against the Reds on Sunday. Fausto Carmona is scheduled to start against the Reds on Monday. ... Former Indians outfielder Kenny Lofton is scheduled to join the club at Spring Training on Tuesday. Lofton will spend one week in camp as a guest instructor, working with outfielders and teaching baserunning techniques.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.