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Indians counting on Carrasco in pitching rotation after bouncing back to strong finish in 2014

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GOODYEAR, Arizona — The Indians are counting on Carlos Carrasco to solidify their young pitching staff.

And manager Terry Francona says it's about confidence for the pitcher, who finished last season strongly after losing his spot in the rotation early on.

"Last year, we were curious," Francona said Thursday at the start of spring training. "The way he pitched, he deserves for us to be all-in."

The 27-year-old moved to the bullpen in late April after four bad starts to begin the 2014 season. He didn't start again until August but took full advantage of the opportunity, putting up a 1.30 ERA in 10 starts to finish the year, including five wins and a shutout of Houston on Sept. 17.

The Indians finished five games behind Detroit in the AL Central.

"There is not one ounce of difference in his stuff," Francona said. "The difference was in his confidence. You never know when they are going to get it. That's why you don't want to be the organization that gives up too soon on talent like that."

Carrasco is one of several young pitchers giving Francona optimism at the start of the new season. The staff includes 23-year-old Trevor Bauer and 24-year-old Danny Salazar. In addition, 26-year-old Zach McAllister made 15 starts last year, 29-year-old Josh Tomlin bounced back from injuries to start 16 games and 24-year-old lefty T.J. House went 5-3 with a respectable 3.35 ERA in 15 starts.

"Pitching is our team strength and it needs to be," Francona said. "We have a lot of young pitchers, who have pitched at a high level. We have a lot of youth that we hope will get better but we have a lot of veterans who want to get better. That is why we're so excited."

Corey Kluber won the Cy Young Award last year. The team also brought in Gavin Floyd after parting ways with Justin Masterson.

"Mickey (Callaway, pitching coach) saw two of his bullpens. The ball is coming out of his hands real well," Francona said of Floyd.

Floyd is recovering from a right elbow injury.


NOTES: Francona said everyone reported to spring training and made it through physicals OK: "At least there was no one running into my office." ... OF Ryan Raburn is mostly unrestricted after finishing rehabilitation from surgery on his left knee. He is expected to play when games begin. ... OF Brandon Moss should be able to start running drills for his position in about one week as he recovers from a right hip injury.

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