CLEVELAND -- Trevor Bauer took another step to returning to the starting rotation, throwing a bullpen session Wednesday at Progressive Field while the Indians were on the road.
“I think what was almost as important was how he bounced back,” manager Terry Francona said of Bauer, who has been sidelined since Aug. 12 with a stress fracture in his lower-right leg. “He’ll throw another bullpen (today). On Tuesday, probably the same thing. Does he face hitters? We’ll see. (Today) he’s going to throw (the bullpen session) on the field so we can use some of the TrackMan stuff to gauge spin, delivery, all those types of things. But he’s doing OK.”
Francona said Bauer, who has been running on the tread mill, has been cleared to begin land-based running at the beginning of next week. He said Bauer is scheduled to undergo another MRI before his return.
The right-hander, who was a strong candidate to win the first CY Young award of his career, should benefit from throwing early into his rehabilitation process.
“I would say of all people, his arm will be as ready to go as you can possibly expect. That’s probably the best way I can put it,” Francona said.
Francona said Andrew Miller has reached the point where he can make back-to-back appearances. The left-hander returned from his third stint on the DL on Sunday.
“It’s funny because you’re at the point in the season, you’re trying to kinda cut back on some of the guys and you’re trying to build him up,” Francona said. “So, we’re trying to do a number of things -- ya know, (Josh) Donaldson’s going to play (Friday), not (today) or the next day. We’re trying to get a number of things done while we’re playing. I think everybody will be happy when we’re just playing, but we’ve got to get through it.”
Miller had made two appearances through Thursday since his return, tossing scoreless innings in each, while striking out four batters.
The Indians entered Friday with the opportunity to clinch their third straight Central Division, while qualifying for the postseason for the fourth time in Francona’s six years as manager.
Though they played in the weakest division in baseball, he said there will be still plenty to celebrate when the Indians wrap up the title.
“Take a lot of pride in that, because it’s hard to do,” Francona said. “Not everything always goes your way. We found a way to be good enough despite some things going our way, some things not. And I think we’ve done it in a really good way. I’m proud of the way we’ve gone about it.
“That’s why regardless of when it happens or how it happens, I want our guys to enjoy it. Because it’s really hard. And then we turn the page and ‘OK, what’s next?’ But I want them to enjoy and blow off a little steam. Because you don’t get to do that very often. And winning’s hard.”
The Indians entered the Division Series last year on the heels of a red-hot final month that included an American League-record 22-game winning streak.
“I don’t know that that matters. It made our record better, but the postseason is different,” said Francona, whose team was eliminated by the Yankees in five games after winning the first two. “We’ve been somewhat unsettled for a decent part of the year. We may not have our best team until the last week of the season. Last year, after we won 22 in a row, we went into the playoffs so unsettled. That doesn’t help. So, hopefully, we will be able to put that part behind us. Ya know, we have Miller, (Josh) Donaldson, (Jason) Kipnis, (Jose) Ramirez -- hopefully the moving parts aren’t moving anymore and everybody’s healthy going in.”
Francona said Friday’s pitcher, Josh Tomlin, would likely get one more start before the regular season is complete. It’s been a trying year for Tomlin, who was in the rotation on Opening Day, but had made only six starts and posted a 6.63 ERA in 28 appearances through Thursday -- allowing 22 home runs over
55 2/3 innings.
“We thought he deserved it. I think he deserves a chance to make a couple starts to see what he can do,” Francona said. “He’s been a trooper through everything. You never hear anything but team first come out of his mouth. It’s a pleasure.”
- Catcher Yan Gomes entered Friday having hit safely in 12 of his last 15 games, batting .345 (20-for-58) with three homers and five RBIs over the span. Gomes’ .316 average since the beginning of August led all AL catchers through Thursday.
- Former Indians catcher and current Tigers player Victor Martinez will be honored prior to today’s game. The 17-year veteran has announced that this will be his last season. Martinez began his career with Cleveland, spending parts of eight years (2002-09) there and making the all-star team three times. He holds the franchise record for RBIs in a single season (114) by a catcher.
- Saturday, 3:10, STO; WEOL 930-AM, WTAM 1100-AM, WMMS 100.7-FM. Clevinger (11-8, 3.16) vs. Fulmer (3-11, 4.56).