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Francona impressed by Plutko's Triple-A no-no

Kontos signed to Minor League contract for bullpen depth
MLB.com @MLBastian

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Indians have not officially announced whether Adam Plutko will be coming back from Triple-A Columbus the next time the need for a fifth starter rolls around. Just in case Cleveland needed any further convincing, Plutko went out and spun a no-hitter for the Clippers on Saturday night.

In the wake of the Indians' 7-1 loss to the Twins on Saturday, manager Terry Francona learned of Plutko's feat against Syracuse, marking the ninth no-hitter in Clippers history. Plutko -- optioned back to Triple-A on Tuesday -- carried a perfect game into the ninth inning and ended with eight strikeouts and one walk in the near-flawless performance.

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MINNEAPOLIS -- The Indians have not officially announced whether Adam Plutko will be coming back from Triple-A Columbus the next time the need for a fifth starter rolls around. Just in case Cleveland needed any further convincing, Plutko went out and spun a no-hitter for the Clippers on Saturday night.

In the wake of the Indians' 7-1 loss to the Twins on Saturday, manager Terry Francona learned of Plutko's feat against Syracuse, marking the ninth no-hitter in Clippers history. Plutko -- optioned back to Triple-A on Tuesday -- carried a perfect game into the ninth inning and ended with eight strikeouts and one walk in the near-flawless performance.

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"How about that?" Francona said. "You know what? How many times do you see where a kid goes down and there's a clunker. But he handled [going back to the Minors] really well. ... On a day where the easiest thing to be was kind of grumpy -- with the way we played and everything -- when I found out about it, it was kind of like, 'Man, that's good.'"

Francona said he can "sleep a little better" knowing that the depth behind the Indians' top four starters looks more formidable between Plutko and pitching prospect Shane Bieber.

Plutko has gone 3-0 with a 3.93 ERA in three starts for Cleveland this season, following a tough 2017 campaign that ended with him undergoing offseason hip surgery. Bieber, who began last year with Class A Lake County, has flown up the organizational ladder, posting a 1.10 ERA with 61 strikeouts vs. three walks between Double-A and Triple-A this year. He made a spot start for the Indians on Thursday and made a strong first impression.

"Going into the year, Bieber was starting out in Double-A," Francona said. "Plutko was coming off probably his worst year in pro ball and he was injured. So, heck yeah, it makes you feel better. Man, that's the worst feelling, to be worrying so much about your pitching. It makes it hard."

Come June 12, when the Indians require a fifth starter again, Plutko will be a primary candidate to return to the Tribe rotation. The right-hander has a 1.87 ERA this season in eight Triple-A starts, including four outings with no runs allowed and two with no hits surrendered. Francona, however, has not ruled bringing Bieber back for that game against the White Sox.

"We actually haven't even talked about it yet," Franconoa said. "One thing at a time."

Francona makes point to meet fans

In the midst of Saturday's game at Target Field, the Twins put a pair of fans on the stadium's video board and noted that they were from Aberdeen, S.D. From the Indians' bench, Francona became excited, so much so that he picked up a dugout phone and called up to the press box.

"I have to meet them," Francona told a Twins PR staffer.

Aberdeen happens to be where Francona was born and the small town where his late father, Tito, met Terry's mom, Roberta Jackson. Tito Francona played for the Aberdeen Pheasants -- a Class C Minor League affiliate of the St. Louis Browns and Baltimore Orioles in the 1950s -- and spent a handful of offseasons there before relocating to New Brighton, Pa., during his days playing for Cleveland.

The Indians' manager was born in 1959 and only lived in Aberdeen for a few years, but he still gets excited when he encounters anyone associated with the city. That is why he made a point to meet Ryan and Hailey Gunderson after Saturday's game in Minneapolis.

"When I saw it, it buckled me," Francona said. "It's funny, because the first thing I thought of was, 'I've got to tell my dad.'"

Worth noting

• The Indians signed reliever George Kontos to a Minor League contract on Sunday and assigned him to Triple-A Columbus. Kontos, 32, posted a 5.03 ERA in 21 games for the Pirates this season, but has a 3.11 ERA in 343 career games in the big leagues between stints with the Giants, Yankees and Pirates.

"It's probably unrealistic to think that we're going to go through the rest of the year without having to make a move with our bullpen," Francona said. "So, we're just trying to add some depth. And I think they felt like there was some things mechanically maybe they could do to kind of help [Kontos], too. So, we'll see."

• Francona noted that outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall (10-day disabled list, right calf) would play for Triple-A Columbus on Sunday, take the day off Monday and then will likely be activated from the DL on Tuesday. Outfielder Brandon Guyer (10-day DL, neck strain) was initially expected to come off the DL Tuesday as well, but his return might be backed up a couple days.

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.

Cleveland Indians, Adam Plutko