CLEVELAND -- It goes without saying that Andrew Miller is an important part of the Indians' bullpen dynamic. The past two weeks without the services of the left-handed leverage artist have shown just how critical of a piece he is within the club's relief puzzle.Prior to Friday's game against the
CLEVELAND -- It goes without saying that Andrew Miller is an important part of the Indians' bullpen dynamic. The past two weeks without the services of the left-handed leverage artist have shown just how critical of a piece he is within the club's relief puzzle.
Prior to Friday's game against the Royals, the Indians activated Miller from the 10-day disabled list -- the hope being that some order will be restored with his return. While he was sidelined with a left hamstring issue, the Tribe's bullpen endured a pile a problems and experienced a high level of turnover, contributing to the team's 5-9 record in his absence.
"Last year, I was on the DL and they won 22 in a row," Miller quipped. "I can't take all the credit for this. I'm not some guy that thinks I'm the difference maker. I want to come back and contribute. I want to be part of it. It's tough to watch from the sidelines. I've been a part of bullpens that were struggling. I've been the reason we've been struggling. I know what that feels like. It's not a lot of fun.
"I think, fortunately, we have a group that certainly can get off that wave and get on a good one as quick as we can. It's just sometimes a little bit harder than we'd like it to be."
Miller made his official return in the seventh inning, entering with the Indians clinging to a one-run lead over the Royals. He opened things with a walk to Jonathan Jay before striking out Jorge Soler and Mike Moustakas. The next batter, Salvador Perez, drilled a 1-1 slider out to left for a two-run go-ahead home run in the Tribe's 10-9 loss.
In order to clear a spot on the active roster, the Tribe placed left-hander Tyler Olson on Major League Baseball's paternity list. Olson is permitted to be away from the club between one to three days before being added back into the fold.
Miller injured his left hamstring two pitches into an outing against the Cubs on April 25 and he landed on the DL the following day. In the 13 games without him, the bullpen posted a collective 9.50 ERA in 36 innings with an 1.100 opponents' OPS. Amid the struggles, the Indians reached down to Triple-A for reinforcements multiple times, acquired righty Oliver Drake from the Brewers to help and cut ties with veteran Matt Belisle.
In Miller's 11 appearances prior to the setback, he did not allow a run in 10 innings, during which he struck out 17 and walked four. During the Tribe's recent trip to Milwaukee, Miller threw a 35-pitch simulated game at Miller Park with no issues. He underwent further strength testing on the team's off-day on Thursday before the Indians activated him for the current weekend set against the Royals.
"We went back and forth a little bit on would it be better off for him to go pitch a game on a [Minor League] rehab," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "He honestly couldn't say that that would help him. I think he feels like facing Major League hitters is really the only way. So, you might see him on a little bit of a schedule the first week back, just to try to get him on a roll where we get him back into that mid-season form where he can be a big weapon.
• Francona noted that right-hander Nicholas Goody (10-day DL, right elbow) was examined by Dr. Mark Schickendantz following the pitcher's week off from throwing. Goody still has some swelling around the joint, but no structural damage, and he will continue to be shut down from throwing for another week to 10 days.
• Outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall (10-day DL, right calf) has resumed all baseball activities, but he remains limited with his running, per Francona. Chisenhall has advanced to "land-based" jogging, as opposed to running in an AlterG treadmill or in the pool.
• Center fielder Bradley Zimmer is still dealing with a chest bruise -- dating to when he crashed into the wall at Yankee Stadium on Saturday -- and he was out of the starting lineup on Friday. Francona gave Greg Allen the nod in center, buying Zimmer a little more recovery time.
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.