CLEVELAND -- Corey Kluber doesn’t think the non-displaced fracture in his right forearm is a season-ending injury, but the two-time Cy Young award winner isn’t sure when he will be back on the mound.
“I don’t have a plan not to pitch again,” said Kluber, who met with the media for the first time since being struck by a line drive Wednesday in Miami. “Obviously, I don’t have a definitive timeline because it’s all depending on how things heal. But in my mind, I’m not looking at it as season-ending.”
Kluber was placed on the injured list Thursday. He is in a soft cast, but will be fitted for a real one in the coming days and examined on a weekly basis. The cast is expected to come off in approximately three weeks.
“I think the initial stage where you’re not able to do much, you just kind of have to sit around and be at your body’s mercy is probably the most frustrating thing,” he said.
A potential silver lining is that after logging over 200 innings in each of the past five seasons, the rest could benefit Kluber, who has sputtered out in the postseason the past two years.
“That’s one way to look at it because he has shouldered a huge load the last five years. Good pitchers do,” manager Terry Francona said. “I think I said that about (Carlos) Carrasco a couple years ago when he pulled his hammy. When he came back, he was stronger. His tank was so full because he hadn’t thrown a bunch of innings.”
Kluber isn’t so sure.
“I don’t think we know that for sure one way or the other,” he said. “Generally speaking, I tend to feel better the more I throw, the more we get into the season, so I don’t think that throwing every fifth day for six months has been a problem for me. But, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how that is when we get there. I can’t say one way or the other.”
Whenever Kluber returns to the rotation, there’s no telling what the Indians are going to get. He was off to the worst start of his career, posting a 5.80 ERA with 38 strikeouts and 15 walks over 35 2/3 innings of seven starts.
Francona is keeping the faith.
“I think there’s a difference between just being healthy and pitching at the level that he can pitch at,” he said. “There’s been times when he’s had to work into being Kluber and the good news for us is that when he attains that bar, he seems to stay there, sometimes pretty much the whole year. But just because it says Kluber doesn’t mean you’re gonna come out on Day 1 and pitches are finishing like they always do.
“He had so many adjustments from start to start, just because of physical things, and he won 20 games, which I thought was unbelievable, considering the circumstances. But I think he also worked himself into some mechanical things that you don’t just step out of -- even for him.”
Kluber joined Carrasco and Trevor Bauer as Cleveland pitchers who have missed extended time after being struck by batted balls back to the mound in recent years.
Francona admits that pitchers are exposed but he’s actually more concerned with other inhabitants of the ballpark.
“To be really honest, you know who I worry about? And I hate to say this, but the guys in the camera wells, somebody's going to get hurt and then MLB is gonna make a rule and it'll be hopefully not too late,” he said. “They’re closer than the coaches and they’re not watching the hitter. More often than not, they’re watching the field. I just think somebody’s really going to get hurt. That makes me nervous, and I don’t know why they don’t address it.”
Serving the city
Hall of Famer Jim Thome was at Progressive Field on Tuesday for a ceremony announcing himself and former teammate and Indians first base coach Sandy Alomar as the team’s official ambassadors for the upcoming All-Star Game on July 9 in Cleveland.
Cleveland is the adopted hometown of Thome, a native of Peoria, Ill., and he marveled at how much the city has grown since his early playing days.
“It started with the renovations of this ballpark,” Thome said. “When LeBron came back, the city transcended into something special as well. Now you look at the Browns and what they are doing. I still follow the Browns. My son is excited about the Browns right now.
“There’s a lot of great things. The restaurants here. Everything that the fans will come here and experience, from the food to the atmosphere to this atmosphere (at Progressive Field). We’ve seen what this atmosphere does in a playoff situation and World Series. It’s wonderful. It’s incredible.”
All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor will join Thome and Alomar as an ambassador. The trio will be tasked with promoting the All-Star Game and the city over the next two months and during All-Star events leading up to the Midsummer Classic.
“I just want to show off my city,” Lindor said. “I want to show off what we have here and let the world know that we have a great city and even better people.”
Reliever Jon Edwards was optioned back to Triple-A Columbus to clear room for Tuesday’s starting pitcher Jefry Rodriguez. It was the second stint with the Indians for Edwards, who was on the Opening Day roster. He is 2-0 with a 2.45 ERA over eight appearances. ... Wednesday, 6:10, STO; WEOL 930-AM, WTAM 1100-AM, WMMS 100.7-FM. Bieber (2-1, 3.16) vs. Lopez (2-4, 6.69).