Kluber not looking at injury as 'season-ending'

May 7th, 2019

CLEVELAND -- When was drilled with a 102.2 mph line drive in his right forearm last Wednesday in Miami, it only took him a few moments to realize this was more serious than a bruise.

“I think right away, right after it first hit me, my first reaction was to try and find the ball and try to get an out,” Kluber said. “And I think once I took that first step to try and run, I got that sensation in my arm, and at that point in time, I probably figured it was gonna be one of those things where I wasn’t going to be able to stay in the game, so to speak.”

After the game, X-rays confirmed Kluber’s gut feeling, revealing a fracture of his right ulna. On Wednesday, the 33-year-old addressed the media for the first time since the injury happened, with his right arm wrapped in a cast, resting on his lap. And although he knows there’s a substantial road to recovery ahead, Kluber said the words his team and fans are hoping to hold true: “In my mind, I’m not looking at it as season-ending.”

“I don’t have a plan not to pitch again,” Kluber said. “Obviously, I don’t have a definitive timeline, because it’s all depending on how things heal.”

Kluber is scheduled to get routine X-rays taken to follow how the bone is healing. For now, he is completely shut down from all activity, including sitting in the dugout during games, to avoid accidentally jostling the arm.

“Not yet. I’m sure I’ll hit that point,” Kluber said when asked if he’s starting to go stir crazy. “Just trying to ... I guess stay around the team and do whatever I’m allowed to do at this point to kind of be active. … We’ve started to map out a calendar to hopefully start to do some stuff and be a little more active next week or so when I get the real cast on it, stuff like that.”

With Mike Clevinger (upper back strain) already on the 60-day injured list, the Indians called on Cody Anderson and Jefry Rodriguez from Triple-A Columbus to temporarily fill the vacancies in the starting rotation.

“I think that whether it was me or Clev that was hurt or somebody else, I think that whichever 25 guys are in that room, that’s who you’re going to battle with that day,” Kluber said. “And you have confidence that they’re there for a reason and you guys work together to win that game that day. I don’t think that changes based on who is or who isn’t hurt and I think that’s the approach we take every day.”

Through seven starts, Kluber posted a 5.80 ERA with a 1.654 WHIP, averaging 3.8 walks and 9.6 strikeouts per nine innings.

“I think you want to be out there with the team,” Kluber said. “You want to be contributing. When it's your day to pitch, you want to be able to take the ball every fifth day. I don't think that changes whether you feel like you are or are not pitching well. Whenever you're hurt, that's how you feel about it regardless.”

While the Indians would much rather have Kluber on the mound, if there’s a way to find a silver lining, it may be looking at this as a break for an arm that’s thrown over 200 innings in each of the last five seasons.

"I think it’s part of our responsibility to try and make whatever happens, you turn a negative into a positive. So of course, we don’t want him out,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “But since he is out, that’s one way to look at it because he has shouldered a huge load the last five years. Good pitchers do. … [I think] I said that about [Carlos] Carrasco a couple years ago when he pulled his hammy. When he came back, he was stronger; his tank was so full because he hadn’t thrown a bunch of innings.”

Roster move

To make room on the 25-man roster for Rodriguez, who started Tuesday, the Indians optioned right-hander Jon Edwards back to Triple-A Columbus. Edwards made two appearances in his second stint up with the big league club, allowing one run on one hit -- a solo homer -- in 2 1/3 innings.

Honorary bat girl

On Wednesday, Major League Baseball announced the 30 honorary bat girls who will represent each club for the annual “Going To Bat Against Breast Cancer” initiative commemorated each Mother’s Day to raise awareness and money for research.

Heather Kokinda will represent the Indians on Sunday. Kokinda was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 29 and, at the time, had a 5-month-old daughter. She went through innovative therapy to help protect her fertility for the future and was solely focused on being there for her daughter. About a year after finishing treatment, she had another baby girl. The family of four will attend the game.

This date in Indians history

1995: The Indians played their longest game by time (6:36) and innings (17) in franchise and ballpark history in a 10-9 win over Minnesota, ending with a Kenny Lofton walk-off RBI single.