CLEVELAND — Corey Kluber is expected to miss at least a month with a right finger sprain, but the Indians are confident the right-hander will pitch again before the regular season is complete.
It took Kluber’s rotation mate Zach McAllister seven weeks to recover from a similar injury, but the diagnosis is that Kluber’s ailment isn’t as serious.
“A lot of it will be symptomatic on how Corey feels,” Indians general manager Chris Antonetti said. “Different people recover at different rates.”
The Indians promoted Danny Salazar to make a spot start Wednesday, but announced that the right-hander would replace Kluber on a fulltime basis.
“Before Corey went down, we had slotted Danny into the spot and that was for competitive reasons, because we think he can come up and help us win,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “We think this kid is going to be really good.”
Cleveland has been cautious with Salazar, who underwent Tommy John surgery prior to the 2011 season. He has been on a limited-innings count all year at Triple-A Columbus, but there will be few restrictions on the big league level, according to Antonetti.
“Our expectations are that he will be able to pitch for the balance of the season,” Antonetti said.
The Indians have dealt with an inordinate amount of finger injuries to pitchers over the years, including two in the same season.
“It’s poor luck of the draw,” Francona said. “We’re not teaching them any delivery that’s putting them in danger. It just happened.”
Kluber (7-5, 3.54) has been one of Cleveland’s top starters this season, with a suspect rotation at the start of the year expected to be tested in his absence.
“Over the last 45 days we’ve had one of the best pitching staffs in baseball and it hasn’t been reliant upon any one guy,” Antonetti said. “Corey has been exceptional. It’s hard to overstate what he’s meant to our team. At the same time, Danny Salazar will come up and get an opportunity. He’s a talented pitcher that we think is ready to contribute. Now, we’ll have to rely on Danny and the other four guys to carry the load until Corey’s ready to come back.”
The 23-year-old Salazar, who pitched brilliantly in a spot start against Toronto on July 11, certainly has the confidence. Less than an hour before taking the mound to face first-place Detroit on Wednesday, he took to Twitter and guaranteed a win.
The Indians considered going to a six-man rotation for one turn before Kluber was injured. Had that happened, right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez (8-6, 4.18 ERA) might have lost his spot in the rotation to Salazar when it returned to five pitchers.
Jimenez was expected to start Friday, but the Indians pushed him back a day in order to give left-hander Scott Kazmir two starts to Jimenez’s one before the off-day Aug. 15.
Antonetti said closer Chris Perez’s refusal to talk with the media is out of his hands.
“Our preference would be to have everybody accountable and available, but it’s a choice Chris made and there’s not a whole lot we can do about it,” he said.
There were reports that after blowing a save in the series opener Monday night Perez left the park before the final out. Francona disputed as much, but some of Perez’s teammates were unhappy they had to answer for the right-hander after the game.
No big deal
Antonetti shrugged off the Indians’ futility against Detroit this season. Cleveland entered Wednesday with a 3-11 record against the two-time defending Central Division champs, including a 1-7 mark at home.
“In the end, it comes down to how many games you win,” Antonetti said. “Head-to-head matchups, you’re not given any extra credit or less credit. On the flip side, the Tigers can be great against the Indians but why haven’t they done better against other teams?
“In the end, I think what matters is how many wins we have and how many wins they have.”
Justin Masterson allowed five earned runs in Tuesday’s 5-1 loss to Detroit, accounting for the first time an Indians starter had surrendered more than four earned runs in 26 games.
Contact Chris Assenheimer at (440) 329-7136 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @CAwesomeheimer.