CLEVELAND — Only four pitchers can count on jobs with the Cleveland Indians this season, says Manager Pat Corrales.
"Neal Heaton, Ken Schrom, Tom Waddell and Jamie Easterly will be on the staff," Corrales said as Indians' players and front office personnel met with reporters as part of the team's winter press tour.
Cleveland finished at 60-102 in 1985, last in the American League's Eastern Division. The Indians' offense floundered early but became productive after designated hitter Andre Thornton recovered from knee surgery and outfielder Joe Carter overcame a wrist ailment.
The pitching, though, was a disaster all season. Cleveland hurlers compiled the league's worst earned run average at 4.91 and ranked last in the league in wins, losses, hits allowed, runs allowed, saves and strikeouts.
At least 22 pitchers will report to Cleveland's training camp in Tucson, Ariz., on Feb. 23. Corrales hopes to find some effective arms in the group.
"Spring training won't be a good time to experiment with new pitches for pitchers trying to make the club. They've got to go down there and get batters out," he said.
Corrales sees relief pitcher Ernie Camacho as a critical element in the improvement of the pitching staff.
Camacho pitched twice in the first week of last season, but missed the remainder of the campaign due to bone chips and torn cartilage in his right elbow, necessitating a pair of operations.
"If Ernie is healthy, he will be a determining factor," Corrales said. "Then (Tom) Waddell could be a starter. If Ernie isn't healthy, Waddell might have to go to the bullpen, because he can throw strikes and he's been in those situations."
Camacho saved a club-record two years ago, while Waddell was an effective long reliever.
Waddell recorded nine saves last season before being thrust into Cleveland's beleaguered starting rotation. Waddell had surgery himself for bone chips in his elbow late in the season but is now completely healthy.
Camacho, whose recovery from surgery was slowed slightly when he slipped on ice and hit his elbow recently, says he began lobbing a baseball under supervision a month ago.
"For about a week I've been tossing it more like you would early in spring training," he said. "I feel no pain. I probably won't be with the other pitchers at the start of spring training, throwing 30, 60 and 90 pitches, but I can see myself hopefully doing that in mid-March."