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Kluber set to start tonight after knee issue

Right-hander weighs in on Hand, Cimber trade; Allen sorting through mechanical issues; Tomlin throwing bullpen sessions
MLB.com @MLBastian

ARLINGTON -- Corey Kluber went to Washington and enjoyed the All-Star Game festivities. The Indians ace got back on a mound in the sweltering Texas heat on Friday and worked through a bullpen session with no issues. Come tonight, Kluber is expected to start as planned against the Pirates after a bout with a right knee issue.

Last week, Indians manager Terry Francona joked that some people who receive the type of gel injection used on Kluber's right knee walk away feeling like they saw God. Sitting at his temporary locker at Globe Life Park on Sunday morning, Kluber cracked a smile when asked if that was the case for him.

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ARLINGTON -- Corey Kluber went to Washington and enjoyed the All-Star Game festivities. The Indians ace got back on a mound in the sweltering Texas heat on Friday and worked through a bullpen session with no issues. Come tonight, Kluber is expected to start as planned against the Pirates after a bout with a right knee issue.

Last week, Indians manager Terry Francona joked that some people who receive the type of gel injection used on Kluber's right knee walk away feeling like they saw God. Sitting at his temporary locker at Globe Life Park on Sunday morning, Kluber cracked a smile when asked if that was the case for him.

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"I don't think so?" Kluber said with a laugh. "No, between that and doing some other stuff that we've been doing, hopefully it kind of knocked it out with having that time getting off the mound. We'll have to stay on top of it and get it better."

Kluber said he felt fine physically during Friday's mound session, but there was surely some rust after his routine was disrupted by the knee problem. Prior to the All-Star break, Kluber allowed six runs in a 114-pitch effort against the Yankees on July 12 and received the injection one day later. The right-hander's arm slot had been drifting down in recent starts as a result of some instability in the knee.

Video: NYY@CLE: Kluber strikes out Bird swinging in the 2nd

Over his past six turns for Cleveland, Kluber has gone 2-3 with a 5.03 ERA, allowing a .740 opponents' OPS in 34 innings. In Kluber's previous 14 starts, the righty went 10-4 with a 1.99 ERA and a .551 opponents' OPS in 99 2/3 frames. While the knee issue was not deemed to be serious, it took a toll on Kluber's mechanics and he will need to incorporate some minor maintenance work into his five-day routine.

Tweet from @MLBastian: Corey Kluber said his vertical release point has dropped due to ���collapsing��� on right knee. Here are grabs from 7th inning on April 9 vs. 7th on Thursday. Most noticeable in third photo of delivery. pic.twitter.com/7nPT5ea4Qz

"I feel better," said Kluber, who continued to play catch over the All-Star break. "So, hopefully that little bit of a break did some good."

Kluber said he was excited about the Tribe's trade on Thursday that brought relief ace Brad Hand and reliever Adam Cimber to the Indians from the Padres. He applauded the front office's aggressive approach.

"This is a few years in a row now," Kluber said, "where they've felt like we've put ourself in a position for them to go and be aggressive and try to improve our team. Obviously, they've given us an opportunity to hopefully make it to the postseason and hopefully set us up for a good spot if we are fortunate enough to get there."

Worth noting

• Indians closer Cody Allen has posted a 6.66 ERA with an .832 opponents' OPS in 25 2/3 innings, dating back to May 6. That includes nine runs (two in the ninth on Friday) over his past five outings. With Allen sorting through some mechanical issues, Francona allowed the closer to face one batter in the seventh inning of Saturday's 16-3 rout over the Rangers. Allen induced a groundout from Robinson Chirinos.

"We had talked before the game about coming in, like, in the middle of an inning," Francona explained, "where he's just competing as opposed to thinking. And we might do that a time or two -- we'll see -- depending on what the game presents. ... I think it can kind of jump-start him a little bit."

• Right-hander Josh Tomlin (10-day disabled list, right hamstring) is back to a regular throwing routine, including bullpen sessions. He will continue to work through some delivery adjustments in mound sessions before the Indians send him out on a Minor League rehab assignment.

"He thinks they're making some pretty good strides," Francona said. "And then we've got to talk about the best way [to approach the Minors rehab]. I even threw out to him maybe going in two- or three-inning stints, where you can throw all your pitches, but it's not five or six innings, where if you pitch and something happens, you're not available. We'll work through that."

• Lefty Andrew Miller (10-day DL, right knee) is scheduled to pitch for Triple-A Columbus on Sunday for his latest Minor League rehab outing. Miller will meet with Francona, pitching coach Carl Willis and the team's medical and training staff Monday to go over the next steps in his program.

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, Corey Kluber