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Bullpen session next step for Kluber

Right-hander could return to game action next week

CLEVELAND -- The Indians are getting closer to determining when ace Corey Kluber will return to the mound. The right-hander has a few more steps to complete in his comeback from a strained right hamstring before the club makes that decision.

Prior to Thursday's game against Detroit, Kluber worked through a series of agility tests in left field and then threw in a long-toss session with pitching coach Mickey Callaway. Indians manager Terry Francona noted that Kluber is scheduled to throw off the mound in a bullpen session on Friday.

"We'll let him come back in [Saturday], see how he feels," Francona said, "and see how he's moving around and try to figure out where we'll slot him in this week. ... Nobody is trying to slow him down. But, we also want to do it right."

Kluber tweaked his hamstring while running in conditioning drills during the Indians' Aug. 31-Sept. 2 series in Toronto, forcing him to miss his scheduled start last Friday. He stayed in Cleveland during the team's recent trips to Detroit and Chicago to work through his rehab program, which progressed to Thursday's workout in the outfield.

In 28 starts (200 1/3 innings) this season, the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner is 8-13 with a 3.41 ERA, 219 strikeouts and 38 walks. Since beginning the season 0-5 with a 5.04 ERA, he has gone 8-8 with a 2.95 ERA.

Francona said Kluber is doing all he can to return quickly for Cleveland, but the team is being careful not to rush the pitcher before he is completely healthy.

"The trainers, they have certain milestones [the players] have to pass," Francona said. "It's not because we don't want them to play. It's because we want them to play with health, so they don't hurt something else. He'll have to go through a few things, maybe like covering first or doing some agility things, so we're confident that he's going to be out there and not hurt himself."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast.
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