7/9/2014 6:30 P.M. ET
Indians counting on Masterson in second half
By Jordan Bastian and Alec Shirkey / MLB.com
CLEVELAND -- The Indians' goal is to give Justin Masterson the next two weeks to not only rest his inflamed right knee, but to tackle the mechanical inconsistencies that have plagued him this season. Pitching coach Mickey Callaway said the hope is to have the right-hander back as soon as he is eligible to be activated from the disabled list.
"Hopefully, 15 days from now he'll be pitching for us," Callaway said on Wednesday afternoon. "He's going to be one of our keys to being a good team. If he's on the shelf, we're going to be struggling. We need him."
Cleveland placed the struggling Masterson on the 15-day DL on Tuesday, meaning the sinkerballer will be sidelined until at least July 23. He threw 25 fastballs off a mound on Wednesday and will continue to do light bullpen sessions on an every-other-day basis leading up to the four-day All-Star break, which begins Monday.
Callaway noted that Masterson would likely play catch once over the break to keep his arm loose.
"We're trying to keep stress off right now, but still work," Callaway said.
On the season, Masterson has gone 4-6 with a career-worst 5.51 ERA in 19 starts. In a loss to the Yankees on Monday, the righty gave up five runs on six hits in only two innings, marking his third consecutive start consisting of no more than four frames. In that three-start span, Masterson has posted a 13.00 ERA.
Masterson's woes have been most glaring over his last 11 starts, during which he has posted a 7.16 ERA, dating back to May 13. Callaway said the knee injury -- believed to be an issue off and on for most of this season -- was taking a toll on the pitcher's delivery mechanics and possibly resulting in diminished pitch speed.
"Obviously, [the knee was] pretty bad," Callaway said. "He went from one of the better guys to one of the worst. I think it was affecting the way he lands and is able to throw against his front side. That was probably the [velocity] difference we've been seeing.
"He wanted to pitch, obviously. He wants to go out there every fifth day and be a guy that hauls innings. But, I think he figured in the end it was best that we take this approach, for the team and for himself."
McAllister returning to Tribe to spell Masterson
CLEVELAND -- Zach McAllister will be back with the Tribe this weekend.
On Wednesday, Indians manager Terry Francona announced that the right-hander will be called up from Triple-A Columbus to start Saturday's tilt with the White Sox. McAllister will assume the spot vacated by Justin Masterson, who landed on the 15-day disabled list with right knee inflammation on Tuesday.
Francona said he has been encouraged by the reports on McAllister from Columbus, where he has gone 5-0 with a 2.23 ERA in six starts. He has registered 34 strikeouts to just seven walks in 36 1/3 innings.
"I think for the most part [the reports] have been all positive," Francona said. "I don't necessarily think it's been the easiest thing for Zach. He wants to be here. But I think he's done a really good job of not letting that affect his pitching. When that's what you ask a guy to do, sometimes it's harder to do than just saying it."
McAllister struggled for the Tribe earlier this season, posting a 5.89 ERA while walking 19 in 47 1/3 innings before landing on the DL with back soreness. The team planned on having him rejoin the rotation on June 18, but that game was rained out and the club opted to recall lefty T.J. House when a fifth starter was needed two weeks later.
"And we explained that to him," Francona said. "We certainly want to and do care about our guys. Saying that, you have to do what's right for the team. You try to send that message in a way that players understand it."
Francona noted that the decision to go with McAllister was made easier by the fact that the 26-year-old was already on the same pitching schedule as Masterson. However, the Indians have also liked what they have seen out of Danny Salazar, who has been with Columbus since May after enduring mechanical problems of his own.
Between his past two Minor League starts, Salazar owns a 3.38 ERA and 18 strikeouts.
"His last two outings have been really, really good," Francona said. "His last outing was almost reminiscent of the guy we called up last year. That's really good to see."
'Mission Swisher' set for July 28 at Progressive Field
CLEVELAND -- Progressive Field has already played host to 43 Tribe games this season. On July 28, the stadium will provide the backdrop for its first scavenger hunt of the year.
Organized by first baseman Nick Swisher and wife Joanna, "Mission Swisher" involves 15 teams scouring all areas of the ballpark for clues that lead to a mystery prize. Proceeds from the event will go toward The Swisher Family Foundation -- a non-profit that seeks to provide children with medical care, education, recreational activities and support programs.
"This event is going to be so much fun for people of all ages," Swisher said. "It gives everyone a chance to experience the ballpark in a whole new way and hopefully raise a lot of money for a great cause. We're so blessed to have the opportunity to give back and can't wait to get our hands dirty."
Each team of eight will be paired with a celebrity participant, of which a handful are expected to be professional athletes. The event, which is open to families and groups of all ages, will be held from 4-8 p.m. ET on what is scheduled as an off-day for the Indians.
"We are truly honored to be hosting an event that will have such a positive impact on kids here in Cleveland," said JoAnna Garcia Swisher.
Quote to note
"I think there's more signs that he's becoming more dangerous at the plate, which is good. He's influenced quite a few games with one swing, which is great. I still think he's searching a little bit, where he's swinging at some offspeed pitches and swinging over them for the strikeouts. But, to his credit, regardless of what at-bat it is in the game, or what he's done up to that point, he can change the game with one swing and he knows that."
--Indians manager Terry Francona, on Swisher.
• Cleveland has been buzzing over the past several days with reports and rumors that NBA superstar LeBron James might leave the Miami Heat to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Count Indians manager Terry Francona among those hoping King James comes back to Northeast Ohio.
"That would be really cool," Francona said with a smile. "I would love it. I just think that I would plan my trips back to Cleveland a little more frequent if [the Cavs] were home. I was in Miami a couple years ago. ... I went and bought a ticket to a game, just so I could watch him play. It was worth it."
• Third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall entered Wednesday's game one plate appearance short of the required pace (3.1 PA's per team game) to qualify for the batting race. As of Tuesday, Chisenhall's .332 average would rank third in the American League, trailing Houston's Jose Altuve (.341) and Texas' Adrian Beltre (.333).
• A yellow Brazil soccer jersey was hanging outside Yan Gomes' locker on Wednesday, one day after Brazil took a 7-1 loss to Germany on the chin in the semifinals of the World Cup. Gomes, who is the first Brazilian-born player to reach the big leagues, was not about to put the jersey away.
"That was tough," Gomes said. "But I'm not going to stop supporting them. I'm still Brazilian."
• The Indians' 5-3 win over the Yankees on Tuesday earned SportsTime Ohio's eighth-highest rating (8.1 HH) of the year. That game was the No. 1 rated program of the day, beating out the next closest prime-time program by 45 percent. Tribe ratings are up 13 percent this season from a year ago.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. Alec Shirkey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.