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Indians weigh options for fifth starter

MLB.com @MLBastian

CLEVELAND -- Following a rough season debut for veteran left-hander Bruce Chen, the Indians are currently working through their options for the fifth spot in their rotation.

With a scheduled team off-day on Monday, Cleveland does not technically need a fifth starter until Saturday's road game against the Rangers. That will give Indians manager Terry Francona time to sit down with general manager Chris Antonetti and pitching coach Mickey Callaway to determine the best course of action.

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CLEVELAND -- Following a rough season debut for veteran left-hander Bruce Chen, the Indians are currently working through their options for the fifth spot in their rotation.

With a scheduled team off-day on Monday, Cleveland does not technically need a fifth starter until Saturday's road game against the Rangers. That will give Indians manager Terry Francona time to sit down with general manager Chris Antonetti and pitching coach Mickey Callaway to determine the best course of action.

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"There's a couple things we can do," Francona said on Sunday morning. "I don't think we need to know today. It's not that we're not thinking about it, but it doesn't make sense to make a decision yet. We'll see how things work, but things are lined up for multiple ways."

Francona indicated that the 37-year-old Chen could temporarily move into the bullpen as a "safety net" for the pitching staff. After posting a 1.74 ERA in five starts for Triple-A Columbus this season, the veteran Chen joined Cleveland on Saturday and allowed six runs on 10 hits in four-plus innings of a loss to the Twins.

Francona also noted that veteran right-hander Shaun Marcum, who is currently with Triple-A Columbus, might be an option for the Tribe. Marcum logged eight shutout innings in his most recent start on Friday, striking out eight and walking none in the effort. He has gone 4-0 with a 1.38 ERA in 26 Triple-A innings, in which he has 18 strikeouts against five walks.

Marcum pitched one game for the Indians on April 12, holding the Tigers to one run over five emergency relief innings. He was then designated for assignment, but cleared waivers and accepted a return trip to Columbus. Since Marcum is not currently on the 40-man roster, the Indians would need to make a subsequent transaction in order to add him to the mix again.

The Indians need a fifth starter because lefty TJ House is currently on the 15-day disabled list due to inflammation in his throwing shoulder. House (0-4, 13.15 ERA) would be eligible to be activated on Saturday, but Francona hinted that the left-hander will likely make at least one Minor League rehab start before possibly rejoining the big league staff.

"TJ's doing really good. Mickey's really pleased with the progress he's making," Francona said. "But I think we need to be cognizant about like, 'Hey, what's in his best interest?' You [don't want to] start trying to reach and get a guy back too quick.

"There's a reason we put him on the DL to begin with, so my guess is he's going to make a start or two, because we want to give him a chance to kind of get his legs under him again."

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

Cleveland Indians