CLEVELAND — The Indians are hopeful ace Justin Masterson will not miss the rest of the season, but it is a possibility.
Masterson (14-10, 3.52 ERA) underwent an MRI Tuesday that revealed a strained left oblique, which normally requires four to six weeks to recover from. As it stands now, the right-hander, who left his outing Monday in the second inning, will miss at least one start and likely more.
“He’s going to miss some time,” manager Terry Francona said. “The hope would be that it’s not the rest of the season. We’re certainly not going to do anything that’s not in his best interests.
“After that (first start), we go on symptoms. We can’t let him start doing anything until he is pain-free. Hopefully that happens like yesterday. We know he’s going to miss a start. After that, you just don’t know.”
Masterson said he still felt pain in the area Tuesday.
“It feels similar today. Hopefully that will go away in a few days and we can kind of get aggressive with it and see what we can do,” he said. “It’s more based on how I feel. We’re going to see how I feel as time goes on. It could be a short amount of time. It could take a little bit, but we’re hoping for the shorter bit of time.”
Masterson seemed optimistic that he would pitch again before the season is complete.
“I feel like I’m a decent healer. I like our chances,” he said. “The hope is to definitely make a few more starts before the season is over and get ready for the playoffs. We’re just icing and resting and throwing some prayers out there.”
Masterson’s unavailability means Corey Kluber will leave the injured list to start Saturday against the New York Mets. The right-hander, who missed close to a month with a finger sprain, was scheduled to follow Friday’s starter, Scott Kazmir, in relief.
Francona said Kluber and Kazmir will be on pitch counts.
Outfielder Ryan Raburn (left heel) was activated from the injured list, but Francona said the utility man is not 100 percent and would most likely be eased back into the lineup.
“It’ll be nice to get that bat back, even as a threat off the bench,” Francona said of Raburn, who is batting .272 with 15 home runs and 41 RBIs in 71 games.
The Indians recalled four pitchers from Triple-A Columbus, adding right-handers Josh Tomlin, Vinnie Pestano, Carlos Carrasco and C.C. Lee.
It’s been a season of struggles for Pestano on the big league level, but he said Clippers pitching coach Tony Arnold discovered a flaw in his delivery that has helped him pinpoint a problem.
“I feel like I’m definitely leaving there on a good run,” said Pestano, who posted a 3.29 ERA in 14 games for Columbus. “I’m just looking to keep that going.”
Tomlin has made the comeback from Tommy John surgery. When he pitches, it will be his first appearance in the majors since Aug. 12, 2012. He will pitch out of the bullpen and will also be a candidate for a spot start.
“We’ll try to help him and hopefully in the process he’ll help us,” Francona said of Tomlin, 2-0 with a 1.65 ERA in 10 minor league rehab outings. “But I think next year is when you’ll see what he can really do.”
None of Cleveland’s top four minor-league affiliates qualified for the postseason. Columbus finished second with a 71-73 record, while Double-A Akron was fifth with a 68-73 record. High Class A Carolina finished third with a 57-83 mark, while Single-A Lake County was sixth at 54-83.
Browns running back Chris Ogbonnaya threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Indians outfielder Drew Stubbs, his college roommate at the University of Texas. Browns players Joe Haden and Greg Little were also in attendance, as was Columbus Blue Jackets player Brandon Dubinsky.
Contact Chris Assenheimer at (440) 329-7136 or firstname.lastname@example.org.