The Indians announced Thursday that reliever Bob Wickman will not throw a baseball for the next four to six weeks.
The team's head athletic trainer, Lonnie Soloff, said that Wickman has a moderate sprain of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.
Wickman, 35, had Tommy John surgery on his elbow after the 2002 season and missed all of 2003, except for a few innings on a rehab assignment in the minors.
The right-hander had pitched well in a few innings during spring games this year, but experienced pain during a simulated game Monday in which he threw one inning in Winter Haven, Fla.
Soloff said that Wickman will go on a six-week throwing program after having four to six weeks without throwing a ball. The timetable is for the right-hander to then go on a rehab assignment in the minors and hopefully rejoin the Indians in mid-July.
Wickman's setback means that David Riske, who went 7-for-7 in save opportunities at the end of last season, most likely will start the season as the Indians' closer.
Cleveland also acquired two pitchers with closing experience this winter -- right-hander Jose Jimenez (41 saves in 2002) from Colorado and lefty Scott Stewart (17 saves in 2001) from Montreal. They are expected to be Riske's primary setup men with right-handers Jack Cressend and Rafael Betancourt preceding them.