CCLEVELAND — The Indians were dealt a significant blow prior to Tuesday’s game against Detroit when Corey Kluber landed on the disabled list with a sprained right finger.
Kluber, one of Cleveland’s top starters this season, is expected to miss at least 15 days and could be sidelined for the rest of the year. The injury is similar to the one that landed right-hander Zach McAllister on the DL for seven weeks.
Right-hander Matt Langwell was promoted from Triple-A Columbus to take Kluber’s roster spot, but he will most likely be sent back down today to clear room for tonight’s starting pitcher, right-hander Danny Salazar.
The Indians may use Salazar to replace Kluber, but he’s on a limited innings count after undergoing Tommy John surgery prior to the 2011 season. Columbus’ Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco and Daisuke Matsuzaka are also candidates to replace Kluber, who is 7-5 with a 3.54 ERA in 21 games (19 starts).
The Indians said Kluber sustained the injury during a brilliant outing Monday night — 7⅓ scoreless innings — but neither the pitcher nor Francona mentioned it after the game.
Francona addressed closer Chris Perez’s failure to speak to reporters after blowing a save Monday in a 4-2 loss to Detroit. A number of unnamed players were not happy with Perez’s actions following the game and Francona was asked if Perez let his teammates down.
“I don’t know if I view it that way. I think it’s his personal choice,” he said. “I think we try to foster an environment where good, bad, in-between guys are accountable. Some guys choose not to talk.
It’s not always a perfect world.
“Those things with a team have a way of working themselves out and it doesn’t necessarily have to be in public. I think that’s where teams come together and take care of team things.”
Upon leaving the disabled list in late June, Perez said he would not speak to the media for the rest of the season. He reiterated that stance when approached by reporters Tuesday.
Pitching for the third straight day Monday, Perez blew his first save in 12 opportunities since leaving the injured list. There were reports Perez left the park before the final out was recorded, but Francona disputed that, saying that the closer stopped in his office after the game.
“He actually came in after the game and said, ‘I felt great. I just blew the game,’” Francona said. “We always check with everybody before the game. It doesn’t matter if a guy went one in a row. If he’s not feeling good, we’re not going to pitch him.”
Francona became agitated when he was asked if he considered having a left-hander face Prince Fielder to start the decisive ninth inning before going to his two-time All-Star closer.
“He had 12 (saves) in a row and now all of the sudden I’m getting asked about matching up in the ninth,” Francona said. “That doesn’t make a lot of sense. I think you maybe need to sometimes step back. He blew a save. Unfortunately, it hurts, but that’s part of the game.”
Right-hander Josh Tomlin will take another step on his comeback from Tommy John surgery, starting tonight for Double-A Akron. Tomlin has already made a pair of relief appearances for Class A Lake County.
“He’s doing really well,” Francona said. “It seems like there’s everybody in that room pulling for him.
It will be nice to have him back.”
Tomlin could be an option out of the bullpen or rotation when he returns.
Indians left fielder Michael Brantley recorded his American League-leading 10th outfield assist in the series opener Monday.
Francona said Brantley has one of the most accurate outfield arms he’s ever seen.
“I can’t tell you how many rallies he seems to have averted,” Francona said of Brantley, who had yet to commit an error in 107 games through Monday.
Monday night’s series opener with Detroit drew a 12.1 rating, SportsTime Ohio’s largest in six years.
* The Indians entered Tuesday having held opponents scoreless through the first five innings in 16 of their last 23 games.
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