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Indians to give Marcum a shot at rotation spot

Right-hander coming off July surgery to alleviate thoracic outlet syndrome

CLEVELAND -- The Indians have found another reclamation project for pitching coach Mickey Callaway.

Cleveland reached an agreement with free-agent starter Shaun Marcum on Monday on a Minor League contract that includes an invitation to attend Spring Training with the Indians. The veteran right-hander will be thrown into the mix for a rotation job and will have the right to opt out of the deal if he does not make the Opening Day roster.

According to a source, Marcum's deal with the Indians is worth a $1 million base salary, plus another $3 million attainable through incentives, if he is in the Major Leagues next season.

This past season, the Indians took on a comeback candidate in lefty Scott Kazmir, who went from pitching in independent ball the previous season to capturing a job in Cleveland's rotation as a non-roster invitee last spring. Marcum will be given a similar opportunity, going up against Carlos Carrasco, Josh Tomlin and Trevor Bauer for a spot on the starting staff.

As things currently stand, Justin Masterson, Corey Kluber, Danny Salazar and Zach McAllister are the leading candidates for the first four jobs in the rotation.

Kazmir came back from an assortment of minor health woes that led to problems throughout his pitching mechanics. Callaway helped the lefty get back on track last season and that led to the A's signing the pitcher to a two-year, $22 million contract this offseason.

Marcum's comeback is decidedly different.

This spring, Marcum will be continuing his return from an uncommon injury. The 32-year-old right-hander had surgery to alleviate the thoracic outlet syndrome that plagued him in his lone tour with the Mets. It is an issue that stems from compression of the space between the collarbone and first rib, which can create pain in the shoulder and neck, along with numbness in the hand.

Marcum went 1-10 with a 5.29 ERA in 14 games for New York before having the operation in July.

Prior to last season, Marcum turned in a string of solid seasons for both the Blue Jays and Brewers. Toronto selected the right-hander in the third round of the 2003 First-Year Player Draft and he became a staple in the team's rotation. From 2007-12, which includes two years in Milwaukee, Marcum posted a 3.67 ERA with a 1.19 WHIP and 2.82 strikeout-to-walk ratio across 830 1/3 innings.

Marcum missed the 2009 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, but returned strong by going 26-15 with a 3.59 ERA in 64 starts (396 innings) in the 2010-11 campaigns. The Brewers acquired Marcum from the Blue Jays on Dec. 6, 2010, in exchange for infielder Brett Lawrie, and Milwaukee made the postseason in '11 with Marcum on the staff.

In parts of eight Major League seasons, Marcum has gone 58-46 with a 3.88 ERA and 1.23 WHIP in 188 games (161 starts).

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian.

Cleveland Indians, Shaun Marcum