Here's something you probably didn't expect to hear a few weeks ago: Scott Kazmir will open the season in a Major League rotation. The Indians announced that the left-hander will be their fifth starter when the 2013 campaign begins next week.
Kazmir, 29, did not pitch in MLB at all last season and only managed one start in 2011 before dealing with a back injury and being released. He showcased himself in an Independent league this winter before hooking on with the Tribe. Kazmir allowed five runs in 13 innings this spring, impressively walking just one against 13 strikeouts.
Before his disastrous stint with the Angels, Kazmir went 55-44 with a 114 ERA+ in parts of six years with the (Devil) Rays. He was a two-time All-Star with Tampa Bay and led the AL in strikeouts in 2007 with 239. In parts of three seasons with the Halos, he went 11-17 with a 77 ERA+. Kazmir's first start will be April 6 in his old stomping grounds: Tropicana Field against the Rays.
Right-hander Carlos Carrasco, who had been competing with Kazmir for the fifth starter's spot, will actually open the season on the active roster to finish serving a six-game suspension he received in August 2011 for headhunting. He had Tommy John surgery shortly after and never served the suspension. After the six games, Carrasco will be sent to Triple-A and Kazmir will be added to the roster. An off-day allows the Tribe to avoid their fifth starter the first turn through the rotation.
The Indians also announced that Jason Giambi has made the team and been added to the 40-man roster, but he will open the year on the DL with a back strain. UTIL Ryan Raburn, LHP Nick Hagadone and RHP Bryan Shaw made the team as well.