Indians put Kluber on injured list, star’s return unclear
CLEVELAND (AP) — Corey Kluber doesn’t need surgery on his broken right arm — for now.
And, for the time being, the Indians season is cracked, not crushed.
Cleveland placed the two-time AL Cy Young Award winner on the 10-day injured list Friday, and the club didn’t provide a definitive timeline for his return to the rotation.
Kluber sustained a non-displaced fracture of his ulna bone on Wednesday night when he was hit by a line drive during a start against Miami. He had more imaging tests taken Thursday at the Cleveland Clinic, and the results confirmed the initial diagnosis.
Manager Terry Francona said Kluber’s arm will be immobilized for the next week — the Indians will keep him out of the dugout to prevent his arm from being bumped — and the 33-year-old will be X-rayed once a week. The cast will be removed in three weeks, when doctors will decide what’s next.
Francona said the club purposely avoided guessing at a recovery time.
“Number one, it doesn’t help,” Francona said before the Indians ended another tough day with a 2-1 win over Seattle. “And two, it’s not really fair to the player. That’s exactly how they (doctors) laid it out. Bones need to heal. They have an approximation, because they’re really good at what they do, but that’s why we’re going to have it looked at approximately once a week just to see the healing.”
Kluber was not available for comment, but Francona said the right-hander is handling the injury with typical resolve.
“He goes, ‘This is the hand I was dealt. Got to play it,’” Francona said. “My guess is — it’s not a guess — when they give him the go-ahead to do something, he’ll do it like crazy. Whether it’s lower-half or whatever, he’ll get after it like he always does.”
Playing without Kluber for any period is a substantial blow to the Indians, three-time AL Central champions who trail Minnesota in the division and aren’t hitting.
Cleveland’s also missing starter Mike Clevinger, who has made significant progress from strained back muscle but isn’t anywhere close to pitching in a game.
And while the 33-year-old Kluber wasn’t performing up to his elite standards early this season, the right-hander still is the club’s ace and a leader.
For that reason, and to keep his players focused, Francona called a meeting before the series opener against the Mariners to address the recent misfortune.
“Just to remind guys who we are, what we stand for,” he said. “One of the first things I tell them at spring training is how we handle adversity kind of defines how your season goes. I don’t see where teams aren’t going to come in and feel sorry for us. This can be our time to shine or we can feel sorry for ourselves and lose. We want to make sure we scratch and claw and do everything we can.”
The Indians have dealt with major injuries in the past, and believe they can withstand another.
“It’s never good news, especially when it’s the ace of your staff that goes down,” said Clevinger, who looked good while throwing from 90 feet before batting practice. “It is tough, but it’s the next-man-up mentality. We’ve been having that same problem since 2016. This isn’t really new with the Cleveland Indians, this injury bug. We’ve got the pieces to keep rolling.”
In the meantime, Francona will juggle his rotation. Cody Anderson, who has missed most of the past two seasons following Tommy John surgery, will make his first start Sunday against the Mariners. Trevor Bauer is being pushed back one day to face the Chicago White Sox.
Francona said it’s vital for the Indians not to look too far ahead. He’s always professed a one-day-at-a-time approach, and it’s imperative to follow that now.
“Our job is to take everything that happens and turn it, from what potentially could be a negative, into a positive. That’s what you try to do every day. Our job is to believe we can win tonight’s game by one run. It’s kind of what we have to do. We just need to beat the Mariners tonight by one. Keep it in smaller segments and it sort of makes it a little easier.”