CLEVELAND -- Trevor Bauer underwent an MRI on the stress fracture in his lower-right leg Thursday and is scheduled to meet with doctors today to discuss the next step in his return from the disabled list.
Bauer has been sidelined since Aug. 12 and the initial diagnosis was that the right-hander would miss 4-6 weeks.
Bauer thinks it will be sooner and has not surprisingly been pushing hard during the rehabilitation process. He ditched the walking boot over a week ago and threw from the mound Tuesday at Progressive Field.
Manager Terry Francona said he would provide an update on the pitcher prior to tonight’s game.
“There’s not going to be a ton to update,” he said. “They scanned him so early in the process that they don’t expect to see a ton, because it’s early.”
-- Francona said he expects left-hander Andrew Miller (left shoulder bursitis) to begin throwing by Monday.
Miller, who has appeared in only 27 games this year, was placed on the DL Monday for the third time.
Jose Ramirez has come along way in a short time, going from perceived utility man in 2015 to MVP candidate the past two seasons.
“I think he’s improved just about everywhere,” Francona said of Ramirez, who entered Friday ranked third in the American League in home runs (37) and RBIs (94). “When he first came up he was a very daring baserunner, which we loved. Now, he’s turned into probably one of the better baserunners in the league. He’s grown into power while not sacrificing speed. You don’t see that very often.
“He’s a really good defender. He just sees the field so well. All the big things he does, he does all the little things, too. He’s just always playing the game.”
Ramirez entered Friday night tied with Seattle’s Dee Gordon for the league lead in stolen bases (29) and is on the verge of joining Joe Carter (1987) and Grady Sizemore (2008) as the only players in franchise history to hit 30 or more home runs and steal 30 or more bases in a single season.
Right-hander Cody Allen was booed Wednesday by fans at Progressive Field after allowing the game-winning run in a 4-3 loss to Minnesota. But the crowd was behind Allen the following day after a scoreless appearance in a 5-3 series-clinching victory over the Twins on Thursday afternoon
“I mean, no one likes to get booed at home,” second baseman Jason Kipnis said. “I’ve had it happen. Other guys have had it happen. It’s not the greatest feeling in the world. But, what I did see was the crowd actually kind of turned around and actually started kind of willing him on and rooting him on. I loved hearing that. I can’t tell you how much, as an athlete, that helps us more than the boos do.”
Under the direction of manager Kevin Cash -- Cleveland’s bullpen coach from 2013-14 -- the Rays have been one MLB’s biggest surprises, entering Friday with a 71-62 record.
Cash has broken with tradition, employing relief pitchers as starters in the majority of their games. It’s been successful, with Tampa Bay ranking third in the AL with an overall 3.69 ERA -- two spots above Cleveland’s 3.82 ERA -- through Thursday.
“They’re in the East, which is a pretty good division, and they’re holding their own,” Francona said. “They’re doing it in an unconventional way, but it’s not with smoke and mirrors. They have a lot of good arms. Not just good arms, but they have a lot of different looks. They’ve got lefties, righties, guys that throw hard, guys that can spin the ball. And they just keep going back and forth.
“But I think Cashy and his staff have done a really good job of getting guys to buy in. Because it can look good on paper, but if guys don’t buy in, it’s not going to work.”
Francona was asked if he would ever consider the approach.
“This year, no. I think it depends on how your staff is built,” he said. “They don’t do it with (all-star Blake) Snell. We’re not going to ask (Corey) Kluber to come in, (Carlos) Carrasco ... the way we’re built, I don’t know that that would make us the best team. If some day if we think that’s the way it would work best, we would do it.
“Every team, you take your talent or what you have and you try to make them the best they can be. That’s exactly what they’re doing. We’re trying to do the same thing, just in different ways.”
Francona and Cash, who played for Cleveland’s manager in Boston, are good friends and have exchanged pranks since Cash became Rays manager prior to 2015.
Cash stole Francona’s dugout seat prior to Friday’s series opener and the Indians put a picture of Cash during his playing days on the scoreboard alongside his .183 career batting average and the question, “How bad is Kevin Cash at the plate?”
The Indians and Class A Lake County renewed their player development contract through the 2020 season. The Captains have only been affiliated with the Indians during their 16-year existence.
-- Top pitching prospect Triston McKenzie tossed six scoreless innings and allowed only four hits in Double-A Akron’s 4-0 loss to Bowie on Thursday. McKenzie is 7-4 with a 2.68 ERA over 16 starts, striking out 87 over
90 2/3 innings.
The Indians’ 239-155 record in the second half since Francona’s debut season in 2013 was the best in the majors through Thursday. Cleveland’s 79-34 record since last year was the tops in the AL. ... Kipnis entered Friday one shy of matching Joe Gordon (100) for the most homers ever by a Cleveland second baseman. ... Utility infielder Erik Gonzalez celebrated his 27th birthday. ... Today, 7:10, FS1; WEOL 930-AM, WTAM 1100-AM, WMMS 100.7-FM. Bieber (8-2, 4.52) vs. Snell (16-5, 2.05).