The 33-year-old has been out since May 2 with a fractured right forearm. He had stretched himself out to throwing 135 feet before getting a checkup with the doctors on Thursday. After the evaluation went smoothly, he moved back to 150 feet and is waiting for clearance to throw his first bullpen, which will likely come in the next few weeks.
“He got a good checkup,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “He threw out to about 150 feet with really good intensity. Now the doctors are trying to put their heads together to see when he can start his bullpens.”
While Kluber continues to work his way back, four other Indians hurlers are doing the same, including one who hasn’t pitched in a Major League game since 2017. Danny Salazar (right shoulder surgery in July 2018) finally left Arizona for the first time since January ‘18, making his first start at Double-A Akron on Thursday. In 2 2/3 innings, Salazar allowed one run on two hits with one walk and two strikeouts on 46 pitches.
“He was pretty optimistic about his three innings,” Francona said. “Now he’ll stay on his five-day program, throwing a side day on his side day and do his other stuff. But everybody was pretty optimistic, including Danny. So that was good.”
Tyler Naquin was originally in the Indians' lineup on Friday, but he was scratched four hours before first pitch. Naquin reportedly felt discomfort in his back during the team's optional workout on Thursday and then the right fielder tweaked it further getting out of his car.
“He’s gonna be fine,” Francona said. “[Head athletic trainer] James [Quinlan] and I were in there and I saw him and I was like, ‘Man, we just had four days off, I don’t want to try to make him play one night and have to take four more off.’ So, we’ll work on him the rest of the day and try to loosen that thing up. Then we’ll see where he is.”
When Shane Bieber took the mound in the fifth inning of Tuesday’s All-Star Game presented by Mastercard, his manager wore his emotions on his sleeve. Bieber struck out the first two batters he faced and the crowd immediately began chanting, “Let’s go, Bieber.”
“I couldn’t breathe,” Francona said. “ ... And when the fans started chanting 'Bieber,' I mean I got chills. That was another incredible moment.”
Bieber struck out the side and Francona threw his hands above his head in celebration. After the game, Francona went to American League manager Alex Cora to brag about his 24-year-old star.
“I’m talking to Cora in my office and we were kind of going back and forth,” Francona said. “I was really proud of him. I’ve seen [Cora] since he was a player and I was telling him and he was asking me about Biebs, and I was telling him what a good kid he is and I told him, ‘I could not breathe during that inning,’ and we look up at the TV and he’s getting the MVP trophy. I was like, ‘What the heck?’”
The performance was stellar, but the All-Star Game MVP Award took some by surprise. Everyone except Carlos Carrasco. At the end of the fifth, the Indians stood beside Carrasco in a moving Stand Up To Cancer tribute on the field. But even in a moment designated for the man battling leukemia, Carrasco turned to Bieber and told him what would happen.
“Even when I was on the field I said, 'Oh, you're going to get MVP,'” Carrasco said. “He said, 'Shut up.' But he was great. It was a good show from Day One. It was unbelievable.”
Tribe picks up bullpen help
The Indians acquired right-handed reliever Phil Maton from the Padres in exchange for international bonus pool allotments and assigned him to the Triple-A Columbus roster. The Tribe also recalled Cody Anderson to move him to the 60-day injured list after having right elbow surgery last month.
Maton has split the 2019 season between Triple-A and San Diego, pitching to a 7.71 ERA in 24 1/3 innings in four stints with the big league club. While in Triple-A El Paso, the 26-year-old posted a 2.89 ERA in 13 relief outings with 30 strikeouts in 18 2/3 frames. The righty was San Diego’s 20th-round pick in the 2015 Draft and has two remaining options.
This date in Indians history
2002: Omar Vizquel hit a walk-off RBI triple in the 10th inning to lift the Tribe to a 2-1 victory over the Yankees.