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Indians get scare as ace Sabathia hit by line drive

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. -- C.C. Sabathia looked down and saw a big knot rising on his left arm. The Cleveland Indians had ones growing just as quickly in their stomachs.

C.C. Sabathia Sabathia

Sabathia's forearm was bruised when he was struck by a line drive in his final spring training tuneup Wednesday, putting in doubt his scheduled start in the Indians' season opener next week at Chicago.

Sabathia instinctively threw up his arms, but the 6-foot-7 left-hander was unable to elude the hard shot off the bat of Toronto leadoff hitter Reed Johnson, who hit Sabathia's second pitch of the game.

The ball smashed into the outside of Sabathia's arm, above his wrist. X-rays were negative, and he will be re-evaluated Thursday

"It's swelling pretty good," Sabathia said. "I do have a full range of motion. It's feeling better, but I'm sure it'll be sore tomorrow. I'm optimistic. I'm going to do everything I can to get out there Monday."

After Sabathia was struck, Indians coaches and trainers sprinted from the dugout to the mound to assist Sabathia, who shook his hand and cursed loudly. He was immediately taken for medical treatment as his wife, mother and children left the stands and walked toward the Indians' clubhouse to check on the 26-year-old.

Sabathia then was taken to a hospital for X-rays, which did not reveal any broken bones, the team said.

"Walking off the field I kind of knew it wasn't broken, but it's always good to find out it's not," he said.

Sabathia will be examined again Thursday, but his availability for the April 2 season opener is still up in the air.

"We'll see how he feels tomorrow and work from there," Indians manager Eric Wedge said. "You try not to think the worst, but he got it pretty good."

Sabathia went 12-11 with a 3.22 ERA last season, and he has gone 81-56 since joining Cleveland in 2001.

Any kind of injury to their No. 1 starter would be another blow to the Indians, who already will begin the season without left-hander Cliff Lee, sidelined with an abdominal pull, and reliever Matt Miller, out for 3-4 weeks with a strained forearm.

Sabathia said he didn't immediately see Johnson's liner.

"I just threw my arms up," said Sabathia, who intends to try to play catch Thursday. "I didn't know if it was going to hit me."

Last year, Sabathia strained an oblique muscle in his Opening Day start against the White Sox. In 2005, he began the season on the disabled list when he strained the same muscle while warming up for his first spring training start.

"I almost got out of here," he joked. "But the Winter Haven curse got me again."

Sabathia was replaced by reliever Tom Mastny, who made the Indians' roster because Matt Miller will be sidelined for 3-4 weeks with a straight right forearm.

Cleveland beat the Blue Jays 3-2, winning it on an RBI single in the ninth inning by Mike Rouse, who found out earlier in the day he had made the club as a utility infielder.

Sabathia's early exit forced the Indians to use six relief pitchers, who combined to hold the Blue Jays to four hits.

The win went to former Toronto pitcher Bubbie Buzachero. The loss, oddly enough, was charged to former Indians pitcher Lee Gronkiewicz.

Cleveland outfielder Jason Michaels hit a solo home run, doubled and walked in his three plate appearances against Toronto starter Gustavo Chacin. Travis Hafner's run-scoring single accounted for the other run charged to Chacin during his five innings.

Game notes
The Blue Jays agreed to a minor league contract with OF Wayne Lydon. The 25-year-old was in camp with Washington but was released by the Nationals on March 19. ... The Indians received RHP Jim Ed Warden back from Philadelphia and OF Ryan Goleski back from Oakland. Both had been selected in the winter-meeting draft in December. ... Toronto INF Manny Mayorson was hit on the left wrist by a pitch in the eighth inning, but remained in the game. ... Blue Jays RHP John Thomson (right shoulder) pitched one inning for
Dunedin in a Class A exhibition game, allowing one hit and throwing eight pitches. My arm strength is down a lot from a couple of years ago," said Thomson, who hasn't pitched in a major league spring training game since March 14.