Derek Lowe (back) feeling better

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Cleveland Indians right-hander Derek Lowe doesn't think his sore back is a serious problem.

The 38-year-old Lowe left Thursday's start after three innings with tightness near his right ribcage. He said he felt better and he doesn't expect to go on the disabled list for the first time in his career.

"I feel better today," Lowe said. "They said I didn't tear anything. My whole right side was not my friend yesterday. There was no sharp pain. I'm a durable cat."

Left-hander David Huff will miss time with a hamstring injury. Huff pitched to one batter Thursday and said he felt something pop as he went to field a slow roller off the bat of Arizona's Willie Bloomquist.

Huff's injury drops him from competition with right-handers Jeanmar Gomez and Kevin Slowey for the fifth rotation spot.

Cleveland sent seven players to the minor leagues Friday. Left-hander Nick Hagadone and infielder Russ Canzler were optioned to Triple-A Columbus.

Reassigned to minor league camp were catcher Luke Carlin, infielder Andy LaRoche, lefty Chris Seddon and right-handers Chris Ray and Robinson Tejeda.

Manager Manny Acta has tried numerous players as he seeks additional offense, particularly in the outfield, where Grady Sizemore is sidelined after back surgery. Minor league veteran Shelley Duncan is the frontrunner to start in left field. After hitting five homers early, Duncan's average has dipped to .178.

"We have not had the consistency we had hoped for offensively," general manager Chris Antonetti said. "I feel good about the balance of our team, but we need to rely on every part of it to be successful."

In addition, Antonetti made several other rosters decisions.

"We also told (catcher) Matt Pagnozzi, (infielder) Gregorio Petit and (outfielder) Felix Pie they did not make the team, but would stay in major league camp," Antonetti said.

The Indians will pay infielder Jose Lopez $100,000, guaranteeing his stay in the organization during the first two months of the season. The new bargaining agreement stipulates a major league free agent signed as an invitee to camp must be told he made the team, as in Wheeler's case, or get the payment.

Lopez has hit .311 in a bid to win a utility role.