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Hand available out of 'pen, Ramirez progressing

@MandyBell02
September 20, 2019

CLEVELAND -- For the first time in nearly two weeks, closer Brad Hand will be available in the Indians’ bullpen on Friday at Progressive Field. Prior to Cleveland's series opener against the Phillies, Indians manager Terry Francona said that Hand bounced back well enough from his 24-pitch bullpen session on

CLEVELAND -- For the first time in nearly two weeks, closer Brad Hand will be available in the Indians’ bullpen on Friday at Progressive Field.

Prior to Cleveland's series opener against the Phillies, Indians manager Terry Francona said that Hand bounced back well enough from his 24-pitch bullpen session on Wednesday to once again be a relief option for the Tribe.

“He felt really good,” Francona said. “He’s really excited about it.”

After his last outing on Sept. 8 in Minnesota, Hand said he wasn’t rebounding as well as he would have liked, and noticed his arm slot was dropping lower than it had been. The team sent him back to Cleveland to get an MRI, but it was revealed to be nothing more than arm fatigue.

Now, after a bullpen session and a few rounds of playing catch, Hand has been cleared to return to game action. The question that remains is will he be used in the ninth inning?

“It’s not June. We’ve got nine games left,” Francona said. “So for this to work, I’ve got to be a little flexible, the training staff has to be a little flexible and Brad has to be a little flexible. If the situation presents itself earlier, maybe we get him in to face a lefty. I don’t know.

"Again, the goal is certainly to have him pitch the ninth inning. I don’t know that it’s fair to do that the first game back after what he’s been through. We’ll see how the game progresses.”

Ramirez to face live pitching

José Ramírez (fractured right hamate bone) continues his speedy recovery, with the possibility the infielder could face live pitching as soon as this weekend. Ramirez will take off Friday before he hits on the field again on Saturday.

“Depending on how that’s going, because we have the fall development programs guys here, we have a pitcher or two that may throw to him,” Francona said. “But it sort of depends on if they feel it’s too much or if he feels like he can handle it. So it’s a little bit fluid there, but that’s what’s in place.”

Looking ahead

The Indians will wrap up their regular season in Washington, D.C., next weekend. Since the Tribe will not have the use of a designated hitter in a National League ballpark, Francona knows he has a decision to make regarding Franmil Reyes.

“I don’t know,” Francona said. “The other thing is, he’s a right fielder. He’s only played left field a game or two. So you’re asking either [Yasiel] Puig to move or him to play a position he hasn’t played, that’s what I’m saying. Those are the kinds of decisions you have to think about, and it makes it hard.”

This date in Indians history

2003: Josh Bard hit the 1,000th home run by a member of the Tribe in Progressive Field history.

Mandy Bell covers the Indians for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter at @MandyBell02.