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Extra rest or skip a starter? Tito facing decision

With 2 off-days approaching, fifth starter not needed until May 26
MLB.com @alysonfooter

HOUSTON -- The Indians have two scheduled off-days within four days of each other, which gives manager Terry Francona a couple of options in the next week.

The Indians won't need a fifth starter until May 26, the third game of the four-game home set with the Astros. Francona could opt to keep things as is and pitch the regular five starters on extra rest, or he could shift Josh Tomlin to the bullpen, to provide some length in an area that, judging from the numbers, could use a boost.

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HOUSTON -- The Indians have two scheduled off-days within four days of each other, which gives manager Terry Francona a couple of options in the next week.

The Indians won't need a fifth starter until May 26, the third game of the four-game home set with the Astros. Francona could opt to keep things as is and pitch the regular five starters on extra rest, or he could shift Josh Tomlin to the bullpen, to provide some length in an area that, judging from the numbers, could use a boost.

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Francona said before Friday's series opener at Minute Maid Park he wanted to give it another day or two before deciding.

"I'll reserve the right to see how we get through the next couple days," Francona said.

Because of the struggles of the 'pen of late, the starters have had higher workloads, and from that perspective, it might benefit them to stay on rotation with the extra rest. Entering Friday's game, Indians starters had thrown 274 innings this season, second-most in the American League, behind Houston. The bullpen, on the other hand, has pitched the fewest innings in the AL -- 109 1/3 -- and boasts the highest ERA at 5.68.

Tomlin last pitched on Tuesday at Detroit, where he allowed four runs over 5 1/3 innings in a 78-pitch outing. He yielded two homers, walked none and struck out four. He had an 11-day gap between that start and his prior one on May 4 at the Yankees, so if he's skipped this time through the rotation, his start next weekend would be only his third in three weeks.

Injury updates: players nearing returns
Lonnie Chisenhall is close to beginning a rehab assignment after running the bases with no issues on Friday. Francona said they are in the midst of putting together a rehab schedule for the outfielder, who has been sidelined since early in the season with a right calf strain.

Bradley Zimmer, who has been on the 10-day disabled list since Tuesday (retroactive to May 12) with a left rib contusion, is optimistic about returning to the active roster by the time the team begins its series with the Cubs at Wrigley Field on Tuesday.

Zimmer bruised his upper rib cage in a collision with the wall at Yankee Stadium a couple of weeks ago. He was trying to avoid the DL but feels the extra days of rest are proving beneficial.

Video: CLE@NYY: Zimmer crashes into wall, leaves game

"If all goes well in the next couple of days I should be ready to go by [Tuesday]," Zimmer said. "Going on the disabled list was the best move. I feel good now and I'm progressing."

Yanny or Laurel? Tito: Both
Most of the conversation that seeped from the Indians' clubhouse lunchroom appeared to be about the debate sweeping the nation -- Yanny or Laurel?

Count Francona as one who's hearing both when he listens to the short audio clip that very clearly says "Yanny" -- unless, of course, it is actually saying "Laurel."

"I've heard both," Francona said. "The other day somebody was playing it on the bus and I heard 'Yanny' clear as day. Today they brought it in and I heard 'Laurel.'"

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.

Cleveland Indians