CLEVELAND -- The Indians' rotation has had its share of issues early on, beginning with the right rib-cage strain that sent fifth starter Scott Kazmir to the disabled list on Opening Day. The left-hander is itching to rejoin the staff as soon as possible.
"I want to go out there and compete as much as the next person," Kazmir said, "especially me being out right now. But I've just got to concentrate on what I need to do. I can't rush anything. I'm just concentrating on just getting out there. That's the only thing I can control."
On Thursday, Kazmir played long toss up to a distance of 120 feet and did not feel any lingering pain from the injury, which flared up while playing catch on April 1. If he feels fine on Friday, he will work through a bullpen session for the first time since being sidelined.
He is looking forward to that important step.
"The big test will be [on Friday], when I throw a bullpen," he said. "We'll see how that feels, getting a little more extension when I get on the mound, downhill and everything. That will tell me a lot."
Kazmir, who has not pitched a full season in the Majors since 2010, won the fifth spot in the rotation during Spring Training, only to be shelved before making his first start. In his place, Cleveland has used right-handers Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco out of the fifth slot. Corey Kluber was promoted from Triple-A to start on Wednesday, but the game against the Yankees was rained out.
Cleveland's rotation has a 5.86 ERA through eight games.
Kazmir will be eligible to be activated on Wednesday, but manager Terry Francona said he will likely need a few more days before rejoining the rotation.
"Hopefully, not too far after that," Francona said. "I think he feels really comfortable with where he is. That's also good. The idea, when anything happens, is to not cut corners, do it right and then hopefully, when guys are ready, they're ready."
Marson shares thoughts on home-plate collisions
CLEVELAND -- Lou Marson understands why some people feel that collisions at home plate should be eliminated. The backup catcher -- still feeling the effects of being bowled over less than a week ago -- just does not see how such plays can be regulated.
In the third inning of Saturday's game against the Rays, Desmond Jennings plowed through Marson, driving a shoulder into him and sending his helmet flying. Marson held on to the ball for an out but came away with a neck strain that has since landed him on the 15-day disabled list.
Marson believes that if Jennings were required to slide, the injury might have been more severe.
"As far as the rule, I don't think you can change it," Marson said. "If he slides there, I might get hurt worse -- maybe my knees or something. It was so bang-bang. Usually, on plays like that, I'll have a chance to at least brace myself or try to give a blow back. That's why I was keeping my mask on."
On Tuesday, Tom Verducci wrote an article for SI.com that advocated outlawing home-plate collisions and ridiculed the long-held reasoning that such plays are simply "part of the game." Marson linked to the article on Twitter but did not add any commentary. He does not necessarily agree with Verducci's stance, but he does enjoy the discussion.
"I thought it was a really good article, and not just because I was in it," he said. "I've just always been interested in that issue. It's tough. [Outlawing collisions] would completely change how everybody teaches you how to block the plate, from rookie ball all the way up to the big leagues. It's a tough question. I don't know how they could change it."
Marson said that his technique is to force the runner to hesitate before trying to knock him over.
"I'm trying to block the plate and make you make a decision," he said. "Are you going to slide, or are you going to try to blow me up? I feel like that split second they have to decide kind of slows them down, at least a little bit."
Marson knows players who refuse to slide in such situations.
"I'm not going to name any names," he said, "but I've played with guys on other teams who were big guys that had the mentality of, 'I'm not sliding, period. I'm either going to blow up the catcher or I'm going in standing up.' Some guys just don't want to slide."
Santana quickly recovering from bruised thumb
CLEVELAND -- Catcher Carlos Santana continues to progress well after taking a fastball off his left hand during the ninth inning of Monday's game against the Yankees.
Santana, whose thumb was bruised after he was crossed up on a pitch from closer Chris Perez, caught a bullpen session and hit in the indoor batting cages on Thursday. Manager Terry Francona is pleased with Santana's seemingly quick recovery.
"I asked him, 'If you had your choice, when would you play?' He said, 'Tomorrow,'" Francona said on Thursday. "I don't think that's going to happen, but I think that's really good news. That means he's not very far off and that the process is moving along quickly."
With Santana unavailable, the Indians are carrying two catchers: Yan Gomes and Omir Santos. When Cleveland deems Santana ready to return, as a backup possibility at the very least, one of the others will likely be sent back to Triple-A Columbus.
Through seven games, the switch-hitting Santana has hit .500 with two home runs, four doubles, four walks, five runs and five RBIs.
Quote to note
"As a backup catcher, I was always told [that] if you block the plate and save a run, it's like hitting a solo homer. I don't play every day. When I get in there, I have to do whatever I can to help the team win. If it's giving up my body, that's how it goes sometimes." -- Lou Marson
• Shortstop prospect Francisco Lindor entered Thursday's action with a six-game hitting streak to start his season with High Class A Carolina. The stretch includes a pair of three-hit games and one two-hit showing. Lindor has hit .458 with one double, two triples, three RBIs and a Carolina League-leading five stolen bases.
• Second baseman Jason Kipnis has been slow out of the gates, hitting .138 with a .161 on-base percentage and .241 slugging percentage through the first seven games. Through seven games last year, he hit .179 with a .233 OBP and .464 SLG, but recovered quickly and turned in a strong first half (.277/.345/.419).
• Manager Terry Francona said that backup catcher Lou Marson (on the disabled list with a neck strain) is not close to being sent on a Minor League rehab assignment, as Cleveland is taking a conservative approach with his recovery. "He was rushing to try to come back as the emergency catcher," Francona said. "He's pretty banged up."
• Right-hander Corey Kluber was promoted from Triple-A Columbus to start against the Yankees on Wednesday, but the game was postponed due to rain. For now, Kluber has been moved into the bullpen, but Francona said the Indians "reserve the right to revisit things as we go, depending on weather and depending on usage."