CLEVELAND -- Frank Herrmann has been searching for a way to be consistently effective against left-handed hitters. The Indians reliever has been experimenting with a curveball for fewer than two weeks, but he already thinks he may have found an answer.

"It's a better pitch than my slider with the way it spins and the way it looks out of my hand," Herrmann said. "Yeah, I've only been throwing it for about two weeks and I've been throwing my slider for four years, but I feel more comfortable throwing this.

"I feel like this is a second weapon for me."

A few weeks ago, when Herrmann and fellow Indians reliever Cody Allen were both in the Triple-A Columbus bullpen, Allen showed the right-hander how he gripped his spike curve. Herrmann toyed around with the pitch in bullpen sessions and immediately found a comfort level with the new offering.

The main issue Herrmann has faced is having an equalizing pitch against lefties. In 40 games for Cleveland last season, left-handed hitters posted a .386 average (1.036 OPS) against Herrmann, compared to a .223 average (.596 OPS) by righties.

Herrmann, 28, features a strong fastball which routinely registers around 94-96 mph, and the right-hander also has a splitter to go along with his slider. His hope is that the spike curve -- a pitch roughly 12-13 mph slower than his heater -- can develop into his primary secondary option.

Indians interim pitching coach Ruben Niebla, who spent most of this season as Columbus' pitching coach, believes the curve can indeed be good for Herrmann.

"I knew that he was lacking something for left-handed hitters," Niebla said. "Something that they could possibly put on the ground and disrupt the timing of his fastball. He's got a great fastball -- we all know that -- one of the best in the Major Leagues. We just needed to get hitters off that.

"[The curve] is a pretty good pitch. Hopefully he gets an opportunity to get in there and throw it. It's a new pitch, but I think it could take his career to the next level."

Hernandez to rejoin Tribe rotation Wednesday

CLEVELAND -- The wait is nearly over. After seven months of dealing with and overcoming legal issues, right-hander Roberto Hernandez is on the verge of officially rejoining the Indians' rotation.

On Saturday, Indians manager Manny Acta announced that Hernandez is scheduled to be activated prior to starting Wednesday's road game against the Angels. The pitcher made his final Minor League rehab appearance for Triple-A Columbus on Friday.

"We liked what we saw," Acta said. "He's ready to go."

In his fourth and final Minor League outing, Hernandez allowed one run on four hits in seven innings. He struck out five and walked one in the 100-pitch performance. The pitcher made two starts for Columbus and two for Class A Lake County during his comeback from legal woes.

Hernandez was arrested on Jan. 19 outside the United States consulate in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, after it was discovered that he had been pitching under a false name (Fausto Carmona). The charges were later dropped in exchange for community service, and Hernandez returned to the U.S. with a new visa on July 21.

Major League Baseball hit Hernandez with a three-week suspension, but that is now complete, and he became eligible to be reinstated from the restricted list on Saturday. The Indians' plan, however, is to wait to activate Hernandez until he is needed for the start on Wednesday.

"It makes no sense for us to activate him now," Acta said. "It buys us a couple more days so we can make a decision with the rest of the guys, especially our bullpen. We'll probably need a day or so to get it completely in order and rested."

Hernandez, 31, went 7-15 with a 5.25 ERA last season, when he began the year as Cleveland's Opening Day starter. His best season came in 2007, when he went 19-8 with a 3.06 ERA to help the Indians reach the playoffs. Over parts of six seasons with the Tribe, the righty has gone 53-66 with a 4.59 ERA in 181 games.

In his four Minor League starts, Hernandez posted a 4.07 ERA with 20 strikeouts against four walks over 24 1/3 innings. Hernandez's last outing convinced Cleveland he was ready to return.

"They liked the way he threw the ball down there," Acta said. "He attacked hitters. It was obviously better competition than being in Lake County, and he was able to go seven strong innings."

Kipnis to miss Red Sox series with neck pain

CLEVELAND -- The Indians hoped to have Jason Kipnis back in the lineup for Saturday's game against the Red Sox, but persistent neck pain will keep the second baseman sidelined the rest of this weekend.

Tribe manager Manny Acta noted that Kipnis -- out of the lineup for the last three games -- was scheduled to see a doctor on Saturday. The second baseman did not take part in any pregame fielding or hitting activities.

"He's making progress," Acta said. "But he's not good enough to be out there yet."

Jason Donald filled in for Kipnis at second base for the third straight game.

Acta said the team's hope is to have Kipnis available for the opener of a three-game road series against the Angels on Monday. Following Sunday's game in Cleveland, the Indians are embarking on a 10-day, nine-game West Coast swing through Anaheim, Oakland and Seattle.

"At this point," Acta said, "it's probably the best thing for us to shut him down for the weekend and then shoot for having him over there in Anaheim."

Through 108 games this season, Kipnis has hit .259 with 11 home runs, 14 doubles and a team-high 58 RBIs and 23 stolen bases.

Quote to note

"It makes it a little easier that I know those guys. I know their heartbeat. I know what makes them good and, when they're struggling, hopefully I can figure out what it'll take to get them back on track."
--Indians interim pitching coach Ruben Niebla, on having worked with many of Cleveland's pitchers in the Minor Leagues

Smoke signals

• Indians designated hitter Travis Hafner is on the 15-day disabled list with a bulging disk in his lower back, but manager Manny Acta said on Saturday that the club does not consider it a season-ending injury.

"I don't think that's what the medical staff is thinking," Acta said. "We've got a month and a half to go. No one here is thinking that it's a season-ending type of thing."

• Indians rookie reliever Cody Allen has turned in 10 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings since being promoted from Triple-A Columbus. It marks the longest scoreless streak to begin a career with Cleveland since Alex Herrera went 11 innings between the 2002-03 seasons. Allen is the longest to do so in the same season for the Tribe since 1984 (Tom Waddell, 12 1/3 innings).

• The Indians inducted three new members to the organization's Hall of Fame on Saturday. Former pitcher Gaylord Perry, who spent four seasons (1972-75) with the Tribe, headlined this year's Hall of Fame class. Also inducted were the late Jim Warfield (athletic trainer from 1965-2002) and Jack Graney (left fielder from 1908-22 and play-by-play man from 1933-53).