Scott Kazmir makes Indians rotation after two years out of MLB

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Kazmir pitched for the Sugar Land (Texas) Skeeters in the independent Atlantic League last season.

Kazmir pitched for the Sugar Land (Texas) Skeeters in the independent Atlantic League last season.

Scott Kazmir's comeback has swerved into Cleveland's rotation.

Kazmir, a two-time All-Star with Tampa Bay who hasn't pitched in the majors in almost two years, was chosen as the Indians' No. 5 starter on Monday by manager Terry Francona. It was one of several moves made as the club began its final week of camp.

Kazmir pitched for the Sugar Land (Texas) Skeeters in the independent Atlantic League last season. After signing a minor league free agent contract with the Indians on Jan. 8, the left-hander outpitched a group that included Daisuke Matsuzaka to make the starting staff.

"I'm very proud that this has happened," Kazmir said. "Knowing where I was a couple years ago and being able to be here now is unbelievable. I guess hard work does pay off."

The 29-year-old Kazmir won't be added to the major-league roster until his first scheduled start on April 6 at Tampa Bay. He went 9-15 with the Los Angeles Angels in 2010 and made one start in 2011 before he was placed on the disabled list and released two months later.

He will make $1 million this season with a chance to earn another $750,000 in incentives. In six appearances this spring, Kazmir allowed eight runs and 29 hits in 21 innings. However, five runs and 13 hits came against Seattle in his most recent outing.

Kazmir was worried the rough appearance might have cost him a shot winning a starting spot, but the Indians felt he had already shown enough to get the job.

He'll follow Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Brett Myers and Zach McAllister in a rotation that will be the key to Cleveland contending in 2013.

As they get ready for next week's season opener in Toronto, Francona and general manager Chris Antonetti finalized some difficult roster decisions.

Slugger Jason Giambi was placed on the DL with a back strain, but the club expects the 42-year-old to be activated when he's eligible on April 9. Giambi's injury gives Cleveland some flexibility with its roster over the next few weeks.

Francona told lefty Nick Hagadone and right-hander Bryan Shaw they'll be in the bullpen, and utilityman Ryan Raburn has made the 25-man roster after a solid spring training - barring injuries.

Raburn was Detroit's opening day starter at second base last season but was sent to the minors after hitting just .171 in 66 games for the Tigers. Francona likes the 31-year-old's versatility and feels the Indians caught a break in signing Raburn, batting .359 with four HRs and 11 RBI this spring.

Right-hander Carlos Carrasco will start the season on Cleveland's roster, but only to serve a six-game MLB suspension he got in 2011 for throwing at the head of Kansas City's Billy Butler.

Carrasco missed all of last season recovering from Tommy John surgery. After he serves his suspension, he will be optioned to Triple-A Columbus.

Antonetti said he'll try to trade outfielder Ezequiel Carrera and lefty David Huff, who are both out of options. Carrera was later designated for assignment.

Also, the Indians optioned catcher Yan Gomes and infielder Cord Phelps to Columbus.

Right-hander Matt Capps was released from his contract, but may re-sign with the club. The Indians released Capps to avoid paying a $100,000 retention bonus on Tuesday.

They made the same move on Sunday with Matsuzaka, who has expressed interest in signing a minor league contract to stay in Cleveland's organization.