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Kluber cedes All-Star spot after bumpy stretch

Right-hander gets injection in right knee, but on track to pitch fourth game after break
MLB.com @MLBastian

CLEVELAND -- Corey Kluber understands his importance to the Indians for the second half of the season. And should Cleveland capture its third straight American League Central crown, the ace will want to log as many innings as possible on the October stage.

With that in mind, Kluber has decided not to participate in the All-Star Game presented by Mastercard (Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. ET on FOX), allowing him time to rest a minor issue with his right knee that has been bothering him for the past few weeks. The two-time AL Cy Young Award winner received a gel injection in the knee on Friday morning, but he will not be placed on the disabled list, and he plans on starting Cleveland's fourth game after the All-Star break, on July 23 against the Pirates.

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CLEVELAND -- Corey Kluber understands his importance to the Indians for the second half of the season. And should Cleveland capture its third straight American League Central crown, the ace will want to log as many innings as possible on the October stage.

With that in mind, Kluber has decided not to participate in the All-Star Game presented by Mastercard (Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. ET on FOX), allowing him time to rest a minor issue with his right knee that has been bothering him for the past few weeks. The two-time AL Cy Young Award winner received a gel injection in the knee on Friday morning, but he will not be placed on the disabled list, and he plans on starting Cleveland's fourth game after the All-Star break, on July 23 against the Pirates.

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"I would have liked to have pitched in the All-Star Game," Kluber said. "But I think, obviously, the big picture, being healthy for the second half, is more important. With the timing of it and having a break, kind of being able to do this and get some down time to let it work and then not necessarily miss time, miss starts, things like that, it seemed to make sense."

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Major League Baseball announced on Friday that Kluber will be replaced on the AL squad by Rays starter Blake Snell.

Kluber's decision comes one day after he endured a rough outing against the Yankees as part of an inconsistent stretch of starts.

Manager Terry Francona said the current approach by the Indians has been "in the works" for a while, noting that the knee injury is not considered serious.

"We always try to do the right thing. This isn't a DL [situation]," Francona said. "We didn't even have to really tell [reporters] he was getting a shot. After talking to him, I didn't want him to go to the All-Star Game and get [asked], 'OK, why are you not pitching?' I just thought being honest was the best way to go about it."

On Thursday, Kluber was charged with six runs over 7 1/3 innings, during which he logged 114 pitches. It was the second time in his past four turns that he allowed six runs. And on June 15, against the Twins, he was lifted after only 65 pitches.

Over his past six starts (34 innings), Kluber is 2-3 with with a 5.03 ERA and 29 strikeouts against seven walk. During that span, the righty has allowed seven homers and an opposing batting average of .242 (.740 OPS). In his previous 14 starts, Kluber went 10-2 with a 1.99 ERA, 103 strikeouts, 10 walks and 12 homers allowed in 99 2/3 innings. He held batters to a .201 average (.551 OPS) in that time period.

Kluber said his knee has been negatively affecting his mechanics, causing his release point to drop.

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

"If we looked at the data, there are some things that have changed," he said. "I don't want to try to use it as an excuse or anything, but I think, if anything, it made it a little bit harder to constantly repeat the delivery the way that I would want to. My arm action has been the same. It's just the release point is lower."

While watching the 2018 All-Star Game, fans can submit their choices for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet with the 2018 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote.

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For more information about MLB All-Star Week and to purchase tickets, visit AllStarGame.com and follow @MLB and @AllStarGame on social media.

Worth noting

• The Indians activated left-hander Ryan Merritt from the 60-day DL on Friday and designated him for assignment. Merritt, who famously beat the Blue Jays in the 2016 AL Championship Series to help Cleveland reach the World Series, dealt with knee and shoulder issues dating back to Spring Training. He continued to experience diminished velocity even after being deemed healthy.

"We DL'd him. We rehabbed him," Francona said. "We sent him to get second opinions. He checks out. His velocity has just dropped off. Knowing that roster spots are going to be important, we designated him. Everybody has an emotional attachment to him because of that game in Toronto. Not just us, but fans, too. We'll see if he gets claimed. If he doesn't, we'll try to get him going, see if we can ramp him back up to what he was."

When a player's contract is designated for assignment -- often abbreviated "DFA" -- that player is immediately removed from his club's 40-man roster, and 25-man roster if he was on that as well. Within seven days of the transaction (it was previously 10 days), the player must either be traded, released or placed on irrevocable outright waivers.

• Lefty Andrew Miller (10-day DL, right knee) remains on target to face Minor League hitters on Saturday with Double-A Akron. On Wednesday, Miller threw off the game mound at Progressive Field so the team could gather Statcast™ data.

"It was good, which made us feel good," Francona said. "He can go out there and throw with what he did the other day and be better than most relievers. Again, with the load he is going to carry, we've got to be fair and do this right."

• Right-hander Josh Tomlin (10-day DL, right hamstring) is scheduled to resume a throwing program on Saturday, per Francona.

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