BALTIMORE -- The Indians want Zach McAllister to feel more like himself on the mound before throwing him right back into the bullpen. That is why McAllister remains on a Minor League rehab assignment with Triple-A Columbus, even though he was eligible for activation on Friday.Prior to Saturday's 5-2 loss
BALTIMORE -- The Indians want Zach McAllister to feel more like himself on the mound before throwing him right back into the bullpen. That is why McAllister remains on a Minor League rehab assignment with Triple-A Columbus, even though he was eligible for activation on Friday.
Prior to Saturday's 5-2 loss to the Orioles, Indians manager Terry Francona said that McAllister -- on the 15-day disabled list with a right hip issue -- was scheduled to pitch again for Columbus on Monday. Following that outing, Francona and pitching coach Mickey Callaway will discuss the next steps in the right-hander's comeback.
"He said he feels really good," Francona said. "Part of it is now, 'OK, you have the opportunity [to let him pitch on a rehab assignment], because this happened.' So, let's try to get him feeling as good as we can so when we get him back, it'll nice to kind of get him back in that role where he's that guy that's pitching later in games. That's part of the goal here, and he understands that."
McAllister opened the year as Cleveland's primary seventh-inning arm, but he turned in a 5.40 ERA with 28 strikeouts and 15 walks in 30 appearances (26 2/3 innings). Prior to being shelved on July 7, McAllister had a 9.24 ERA and .963 opponents' OPS in his previous 13 games (12 2/3 innings), including seven runs allowed between his two most recent outings on July 2 and 6.
Before that 13-game stretch, McAllister posted a 1.93 ERA and a .661 opponents' OPS in his first 17 outings (14 innings) this season. The big righty has seen his velocity drop as the season has worn on, though. McAllister averaged 96.1 mph on his fastball in May, but his average pitch speed fell to 95.6 in June and 94.7 in July. He averaged 94.1 mph on July 2 in Toronto and then 93.6 mph on July 6 against Detroit.
"There are times when he's not pitching in to righties enough," Francona said. "And then he starts maybe yanking his fastball across the plate. When Zach's going good, at least in my opinion, he's rearing back and firing it. And then off of that comes [either] the split or the occasional breaking ball. It was like he was trying to guide it at times. His velocity was maybe 93-94, but you weren't seeing the 95-96, because I'm not sure he felt really good about his command."
• The Indians signed lefty Joe Thatcher to a Minor League deal on Saturday. The reliever is scheduled to throw a handful of simulated games in Goodyear, Ariz., before joining Triple-A Columbus. Thatcher, 34, was in camp with the Indians during Spring Training, but he was released on March 27. He signed with the Dodgers in April and appeared in 17 games at Triple-A Oklahoma City before being released again. Thatcher has a 3.38 ERA with a .232 opponents' average against left-handed batters in his nine-year career.
• Indians left fielder Michael Brantley, who underwent a minor procedure on Friday to break up scar tissue in front of his right shoulder, will convene with Cleveland's medical staff on Monday or Tuesday. The hope is that Brantley will be able to return to high-intensity swings in the batting cage. The Indians do not believe he will need to start his hitting progression from scratch after his latest setback.
• Juan Uribe was not in Saturday's starting lineup, but Francona said the third baseman was available off the bench and that he was fortunate not to have been seriously hurt. Uribe was hit on the head by a pitch from O's reliever Odrisamer Despaigne in the seventh inning of Friday's 5-1 loss, but he was feeling fine on Saturday. Said Francona: "He told the trainers he had a little headache when he woke up, but he said little. And no trouble with vision."
• Right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall was back in the starting lineup on Saturday and feeling fine, one day after being scratched due to illness.
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 listen to his podcast.