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Thursday, July 7, 2011
Fausto Carmona no longer No. 1

Associated Press

CLEVELAND -- Indians manager Manny Acta is going to try something different in an attempt to get Cleveland right-hander Fausto Carmona on track.

Carmona will be dropped from the No. 1 spot and put at the end of the rotation when he comes back from a stint on the disabled list, Acta said Thursday.

"This will give him as long as possible to recover," Acta said.

It will also lessen some of the pressure on Carmona, who is 1-7 with a 7.69 ERA in 10 starts since May 13. He is sidelined with a strained muscle in his right thigh, sustained while running to first base after bunting Saturday in Cincinnati.

"He played catch today from 60 feet," Acta said, adding that the 27-year-old is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Wednesday before the Indians head to Baltimore for a four-game series after the All-Star break.

If all goes as planned, that timetable would have Carmona making his next start on July 18 in Minnesota.

Carmona opened the year as Cleveland's ace but immediately was hit hard. He gave up 10 runs in only three innings on Opening Day against the Chicago White Sox and has continued to struggle.

A 19-game winner in 2007, Carmona was wildly inconsistent the past two seasons. He went 8-7 in 2008 when he was sidelined for two months with a strained left hip. A year later, he was sent to the minors to adjust both his delivery and mental approach as he went 5-12 with a 6.32 ERA.

Carmona regained his form somewhat in 2010, going 13-14 and being selected for the All-Star Game, but has been unreliable in the No. 1 spot this year. In 18 starts overall, he is 4-10 with a 5.78 ERA.

Carmona is out of options, so a refresher course in the minors isn't feasible for the Indians, who need him to contribute consistently if they hope to remain in first place in the AL Central.

A trip to the bullpen isn't likely, since there's little room on a team with one of the best relief corps in the game. Entering the start of a four-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays to conclude the season's first half, Cleveland relievers had gone 14-8 with a 3.17 ERA and 22 saves.

All-Star closer Chris Perez has converted 15 consecutive save chances; left-handed setup man Rafael Perez is 3-1 with a 1.60 ERA; and right-hander Joe Smith 2-1 with a 0.92 ERA -- going 22 consecutive games without allowing an earned run.