CLEVELAND — Zach McAllister’s injury rehabilitation has reached a new level.
McAllister, who has been on the disabled list since June 8 with a right middle finger sprain, is scheduled to make his first minor league rehab appearance today for Double-A Akron.
According to manager Terry Francona, the goal is for the right-hander to pitch four innings. If he makes it through without incident, McAllister will make another rehab start, this time at Triple-A Columbus, before possibly rejoining the rotation.
If McAllister is able, he would be scheduled to pitch July 23 at Seattle. If not, the start will likely go to right-hander Danny Salazar, who offered up a brilliant major league debut Thursday (one run on two hits, seven strikeouts in six innings) in a 4-2 win over the Blue Jays.
“A lot of that’s going to be decided on how Zach’s doing,” Francona said. “(Salazar) could pitch again.”
With the Indians not needing a starter until the Seattle date, Salazar was optioned back to Columbus on Friday, with Cleveland calling up right-handed reliever Chen-Chang Lee.
Lee, 26, is a native of Taiwan and was acquired as an undrafted free agent in 2008. He’s made 16 appearances this year for Columbus, Akron and Class A Lake County, with his season starting late as he recovered from Tommy John surgery.
“This is a kid that was on the fast track early,” Francona said of Lee, who hasn’t allowed a run in six games for the Clippers, striking out 12 batters over 6⅓ innings. “(He) had the Tommy John, had to work his way back and has been throwing the ball so well. It gives us a chance to look at him and let him get acclimated, not only to the major leagues, but to us, and (for us to) see how he’s throwing.”
If the Indians make a move at the trading deadline, it won’t be because of Francona’s insistence.
“I’m so appreciative of what (general manager Chris Antonetti has) already done and I really like our team,” Francona said. “I would never try to pressure him to go and get somebody that would derail part of our future.
“I know how hard he’s working to always try to make us better, but I like believing in our guys. Every team’s GM is trying to make his team better. We’ll see how it goes.”
The Indians are likely interested in acquiring a top-shelf starting pitcher and a left-handed reliever.
Left-handed-hitting third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall was not in the lineup Friday against Royals left-hander Bruce Chen. Chisenhall has struggled against lefties in the past, with Francona employing him sparingly against them this year.
“You try to balance it,” Francona said. “We have games we’re trying to win and we have a young kid that we’re trying to develop.”
Chisenhall has started 37 games against right-handers this season and just seven against lefties (3-for-33).
Taking a gamble
Francona told reporters prior to Friday’s game that he would be spending the All-Star break in Las Vegas. He’s looking forward to the time off.
“Once the season starts, you can’t let go, but without a game hanging over your head that night, you can recharge,” Francona said. “That’s important for everybody.”
Francona was asked if he would watch the All-Star Game from Vegas.
“There’s so many TVs there I would definitely be interested to see Masty (Justin Masterson) and Kip (Jason Kipnis),” he said. “If they get in, I would certainly stop (to watch), unless I was really on a roll.”
Friday (by 5 p.m.) was the deadline to sign draft picks, with the Indians signing 24 of their 39 selections.
** Center fielder Michael Bourn was scheduled for a night off, but was used as a pinch hitter. Cleveland’s leadoff hitter entered Friday batting .285 with two homers, 17 RBIs and 13 stolen bases in 65 games.
** The Indians’ rotation entered Friday with a 3.79 ERA through 46 games at Progressive Field.
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