MINNEAPOLIS – Shane Bieber has missed three months with a right shoulder strain, but the Indians believe the former Cy Young award winner could be nearing a return, possibly this season.
Bieber made his first rehab start on Tuesday for Triple-A Columbus, going 2 2/3 innings and throwing 47 pitches against the Toledo Mud Hens.
Cleveland interim manager DeMarlo Hale said the reports following the game were good and he hopes Bieber can return for one start before the end of the season.
“It’s hard to say, but I think it’s important that he does pitch in a big league game this season,” Hale said before Wednesday’s series finale in Minnesota. “I don’t want to say that I feel like we’re up against it, but we’re going to do the right thing. He felt good. Nothing was major from his rehab start that I’ve heard of.
“So, hopefully next week maybe a rehab start again and hopefully that comes out very good and then we’ve got two weeks left. We’ll try to slot him in to pitching in a big league game. That’s my wish. Granted, there’s other people involved, the medical, and not only the medical, but Shane himself. That’s my wish, that he will get into a big league game before the season’s over.”
Bieber has been out since June 14 with a right subscapularis strain. Following a lengthy rehab, he allowed one run on three hits against Toledo on Tuesday.
The plan is for Bieber to return to Progressive Field for normal maintenance and the team will then determine the next step for its ace.
Bieber will make at least one more rehab start, but Hale said he could envision a return to Cleveland before the end of the season. Aaron Civale made three rehab starts as he returned from missing more than two months, but the end of the MLB season could accelerate the plan for Bieber.
“The timeframe is getting short on us,” Hale said. “I think it’s really going to depend on how Shane feels, what the medical staff feels is best and I think we can easily slot him in somewhere because you can always piggyback someone behind him. But I just think there’s a number of things that we just want to be comfortable with.
“Being up against the time, three weeks to go, it could be a possibility that he only does one more rehab and see where he’s at. I’m sure he’s going to be on a pitch count anyway. We’ll see how it goes.”
Bieber was 7-4 with a 3.28 ERA this season before the injury.
Shortstop Amed Rosario, who’s hit .306 with five homers and 26 RBIs in 53 games since the All-Star break, will be away from the team after being placed on the family medical emergency/bereavement list.
Rosario could be out from three to seven days while on the list. Ernie Clement was recalled from Triple-A Columbus in a corresponding move.
James Karinchak, who was optioned to Triple-A on Aug. 28, continues to work and try to find his release point in the Minors.
Karinchak held a 0.44 ERA for Cleveland on May 22. In his final 38 games for the Indians before being optioned, he had a 6.42 ERA and 25 walks in 33 2/3 innings.
“I think there’s a game that he’s getting in soon here,” Hale said. “He is working on some things, having bullpens.”
Hale wasn’t sure if he would return to Cleveland before the end of the season.
“I can see where there’s a possibility of him coming back,” Hale said. “I haven’t had the discussion about that. Since this roster expand and we went to six-man rotation, that’s kind of been the conversation of late, trying to maneuver yourself through this. I could see that happening. We haven’t talked about it yet or I haven’t been in the conversation yet but it’s something to think about, for sure.”