CLEVELAND – The Indians are bolstering their contingency plan for the pitcher formerly known as Fausto Carmona.
With one fifth of its starting rotation still stuck in the Dominican Republic and no clear timetable for his return, Cleveland has signed a pitcher that could fill the void Monday, reportedly agreeing to terms on a minor league contract with right-hander Jon Garland.
The Indians, who announced Monday that they will refer to Carmona by his actual name – Roberto Hernandez — did not confirm the signing, but it is likely to be announced upon Garland passing a physical this week in Goodyear, Ariz. Cleveland pitchers and catchers report Monday.
The 32-year-old Garland, a veteran of 12 big league seasons, will compete for Hernandez’s vacant spot this spring along with David Huff, Jeanmar Gomez and Kevin Slowey, another veteran offseason acquisition.
Shoulder surgery limited Garland to just nine starts (1-4, 4.33 ERA) last year for the Dodgers, who signed him to a one-year free-agent contract worth $5 million prior to last year. But the two-time 18-game winner has been durable in the past, posting double-digit win totals while making at least 30 starts nine times during his career.
The Dodgers declined an $8 million option for 2012 on Garland, who owns a 132-119 record and a 4.32 ERA in 330 career starts. He went 14-12 with a 3.47 ERA in 33 starts for San Diego in 2010.
Garland is most recognizable to Indians fans as a member of Central Division rival Chicago’s starting staff for eight years after breaking in with the White Sox as a 20-year-old rookie in 2000. His two 18-win seasons came in consecutive years for Chicago in 2005-06.
The Indians have been adding depth to their pitching staff all offseason, but didn’t have an opening in the rotation until the Hernandez situation surfaced.
Hernandez, who was arrested Jan. 19 in the Dominican Republic on false identity charges, has been released but is still awaiting a visa to return to America. He is on the restricted list and does not count against the Indians’ 40-man roster, nor is Cleveland responsible for Hernandez’s salary – a $7 million option that was exercised by the club Oct. 29 — the 31-year-old right-hander is activated.
The Indians have announced no official word on when they expect Heredia’s return and appear to be preparing for the possibility that he won’t this season.
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