CLEVELAND — The Indians finally have a timetable for the return of Andrew Miller.
“He’s going to pitch (today) in Akron, he’ll go every other day this week and then towards the end of the week into the weekend, he’ll go back-to-back (outings),” manager Terry Francona said of Miller, who has been sidelined since May 26 with right knee inflammation. “And then, we’ll see, then maybe he’s ready to join us. We’ll see how he’s doing.
“He’s doing good (right now). I think he’s feeling good about things. We’re excited about that.”
Miller made his third rehab appearance for Triple-A Columbus on Sunday, allowing a hit and striking out one in one inning of the Clippers’ 5-0 win over Scranton/Wilkes Barre.
The Indians want to see Miller pitch on consecutive days before activating him from the disabled list.
“I think it makes sense. Shoot, it’s fair to him,” Francona said. “When you activate a guy, you can say you’re not going to pitch him every other (day), but ... you just like to be fair to him and see how it responds and just make sure he’s OK to do that. You hate to wait two months to build somebody up and then think, ‘Well, we could have waited another week.’”
The Indians, who have added reinforcements to the bullpen, will have decisions to make once Miller returns.
“Believe me, we’ll make it fit. Believe me,” Francona said. “If we ever have too many good pitchers, if that’s ever a problem, we’ll deal with it.”
Big E out
Edwin Encarnacion missed his second straight game with a bone bruise in his left hand that he originally sustained July 15 in the final game of the first half. He was in the lineup for the first two games after the All-Star break, but missed Sunday’s series finale in Texas.
Francona said Encarnacion was examined by Dr. Thomas Graham on Monday and that he expected him to return tonight.
Yandy Diaz replaced Encarnacion at DH and in the batting order at cleanup. He entered Monday still without a home run on the big league level in 52 games (167 at-bats).
Under the radar
Two-time All-Star closer Brad Hand was the big name in last week’s trade with the Padres for Francisco Mejia, but Francona believes Cleveland may have acquired a hidden gem in Adam Cimber.
“Cimber is gonna be quietly a really good addition,” Francona said of the right-hander, who entered Monday with a 3.12 ERA and 51 strikeouts over 49 innings in 43 appearances. “He’s young, he’s tough on righties. He’s a great kid. He’s gonna help us. When you get those guys that pitch, like Oliver Perez — the situational guys — they’ve gotta be good because if they’re not they can get you in trouble. Because you’re bringing them in against the better hitters. He’s gonna be a good one.”
Cimber’s unique, sidearm, low-slot delivery can make things difficult on hitters who don’t see it on a regular basis. Right-handed batters had hit only .215 off him through Sunday, with left-handed hitters batting .293.
“Some guys rely wholly on that deception,” Francona said. “I think his stuff’s good enough ... and he’s still learning. You get him in, get him out. You’re not going to leave him in for multiple innings. But when it is a different look, if a guy throws strikes — you don’t give a hitter too many looks, generally — you got a guy that’s going to have success.”
Francona said he messed around throwing sidearm back in the day, but not like Cimber.
“Not that far down,” he said. “In the backyard, Wiffle-ball (sidearm). Not (down) there, that hurts. I probably could now. Everything else seems to be going that way.”
Pittsburgh arrived in Cleveland riding a nine-game winning streak. The Pirates entered the three-game interleague series in third place in the NL Central, trailing first-place Chicago by eight games.
“(It) seemed like two weeks ago maybe they were going to be sellers and now all of a sudden they’re trying to climb back in,” Francona said. “We’ll see if we can quiet that down a little bit.
“Their pitching staff is quietly really good. Especially their bullpen.”
Francona is also impressed by the starters who will face the Indians this series — right-handers Trevor Williams (Monday), Joe Musgrove (tonight) and Jameson Tallion (Wednesday).
“They’re all below hits per innings, things like that,” he said. “They may not be Cy Young, but they’re all pretty consistently good.”
Francona was a fan of the Pirates growing up in New Brighton, Pa.
“Heck yeah,” he said. “Bob Prince. Nellie King. Yeah, Manny Sanguillen, Al Oliver, Omar Moreno, Willie Stargell, Roberto Clemente. Heck yeah. Loved them.”
- The Indians entered Monday leading the majors with 118 runs (6.94 per game) and a .292 team batting average in July.
- Cleveland was shut out for the fourth time Sunday, the second fewest in the majors behind Minnesota’s three.
- Corey Kluber entered Monday leading the majors with 1.1 walks per nine innings (17 walks over 133 2⁄3 innings).