9/2/2014 6:30 P.M. ET
Kluber, Callaway address ace's mechanical flaws
Tribe pitching coach says righty has been 'collapsing on his back leg'
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
CLEVELAND -- Corey Kluber had been so good through the heart of the summer that a slight drop in production late in August seemed glaring. When the Indians' staff leader could not get through three innings Monday night, red flags officially went up.
Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway said he and the pitcher went to work Tuesday on tackling some mechanical problems that have come up lately.
"It looks like maybe he's collapsing on his back leg a little bit," Callaway said. "That causes a number of issues. He might be throwing across his body a little bit more. ... He's probably throwing underneath the ball. Lately, his release point has been more towards third base, so out away from his head a little bit more.
"His pitches have been flatter and have been more up in the zone than we're used to seeing. I think, from a mechanical standpoint, that's probably what is going on with him."
During Monday's 12-1 loss to Detroit, Kluber was charged with six runs (two earned) in 2 2/3 innings and was pulled after only 57 pitches. Three earned runs were erased from Kluber's line Tuesday, when an official scoring change gave right fielder Mike Aviles an error for the Miguel Cabrera fly ball that was initially ruled a single in the third.
Over his past three starts combined, Kluber has surrendered 11 runs (eight earned) on 22 hits in 16 innings, during which he has posted 18 strikeouts against eight walks with a 1.096 opponents' OPS. In the previous 10 starts combined, the right-hander gave up 11 runs (10 earned) on 49 hits in 75 2/3 innings, in which he had 83 strikeouts, 11 walks and a .478 opponents' OPS.
Callaway said Kluber has displayed some of the mechanical flaws for a handful of starts, but the righty was managing to pitch well through the issues.
"The tough part with him is we've been kind of seeing that trend, but he was still dealing," Callaway said. "Just because he goes seven innings and gives up three runs and punches out 10 doesn't mean you say anything to a guy yet. So, I guess talking about it today -- after [Monday] night -- was probably good timing."
Kluber is sitting at a career-high 195 1/3 innings, which is a solid spike over the 159 2/3 he logged between the Majors and Minors last season. The right-hander's previous career high was 188 1/3, which came between the Majors and Minors in 2012. Callaway said the increased work load might be contributing to the mechanical issues.
"Yeah, his legs could be tired," Callaway said. "And you don't even know it. He probably feels great, but you don't even realize those things are happening, so you've really got to kind of monitor those things."
Tribe gives bench boost with Raburn's return
CLEVELAND -- The Indians regained a member of their bench on Tuesday, when the club activated utility man Ryan Raburn from the 15-day disabled list.
Raburn had been shelved since Aug. 19 due to soreness in his right wrist, but he spent the better part of the past two weeks rehabbing the injury between stops with Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus. With rosters now expanded to a maximum of 40 players this month, Cleveland did not need a subsequent move to add Raburn back to the fold.
Indians manager Terry Francona is hoping Raburn can provide a spark off the bench down the stretch.
"That would be great. That would be really good," Francona said. "If you look up at the end of the year, his stats might not reflect [his value to us], but if he has a hot three or four weeks, especially with the lefties we're facing coming up, that would be really great."
In seven Minor League rehab games, Raburn went 6-for-28.
Through 70 games this season, the 33-year-old Raburn has hit .191 with three home runs and 21 RBIs for the Tribe, though he has been bothered off and on by the wrist issue since Spring Training. The injury worsened on Aug. 13, when Raburn landed hard on a diving catch in the sixth inning of Game 2 of a doubleheader against the D-backs.
Raburn landed on the DL in the midst of an 0-for-13 skid and had posted just a .118 (4-for-34) average over his last 14 games for Cleveland. It has been a dramatic dropoff from 2013, when he hit .272 with 16 homers, 55 RBIs and a .901 OPS in 87 games for the Indians, who signed him to a two-year extension that runs through 2015.
Murphy closer to returning; Aviles remains out
CLEVELAND -- It was a case of one step forward and one step back for the Indians' depth chart Tuesday night.
While veteran right fielder David Murphy (strained right oblique) inched closer to a return from the 15-day disabled list, utility man Mike Aviles was still dealing with whiplash symptoms. Murphy ran the bases at Progressive Field on Tuesday and is scheduled to begin a Minor League rehab assignment with Triple-A Columbus on Wednesday.
"I'm getting pretty close," Murphy said. "Obviously, I want to get out there as soon as possible, but I'm trying to be smart with it and just trust what they're saying. I feel like everything has been on schedule so far. Hopefully, it'll only continue to get stronger."
Murphy, 32, has been shelved with the right side issue since Aug. 10, but has progressed steadily since injuring the oblique on a swing Aug. 9 in New York. In 109 games this season, the right fielder has hit .262 with seven home runs and 55 RBIs.
Indians manager Terry Francona said the plan is for Murphy to play five innings Wednesday before building to seven innings Thursday. Due to rosters being expanded in September, Francona said the Indians have some flexibility with when to activate Murphy.
"He may not be ready to play seven days in a row," Francona said, "but I'm not sure that doesn't mean we [can't activate him]. We'll activate him when -- a couple things -- one, he feels healthy and, two, he feels like he has his legs under him at the plate. We'll get some input from him, too."
Aviles was hurt during a diving catch in the first inning of Monday's 12-1 loss to the Tigers, but remained in the game for three innings. The utility man was checked for a concussion, but passed the tests administered during the game. Aviles remained out of the lineup Tuesday and could be sidelined for a few days.
"He's passed all the concussion tests, which is good," Francona said. "He still doesn't feel great. He's got the whiplash symptoms, so we'll keep him around here [Tuesday] to let the doc look at him again and then kind of go from there."
In 97 games this season, Aviles has hit .245 with five homers and 33 RBIs.
Quote to note
"He's had 200 stressful innings this year, where every ballgame he's pitched in all year has been pretty close. Sooner or later, you kind of reach that boiling point. He might've reached that a little bit [Monday] night, but he identified that he did today."
-- Callaway, on Kluber
• Francona was not willing to note which players might be in line for a promotion to Cleveland after Triple-A Columbus' postseason run comes to an end. The Clippers begin an International League semifinal series with Triple-A Durham on Wednesday.
"We want to let them enjoy it, because they've earned it," Francona said. "There's a younger group there, especially, that we want to let them go through those playoffs. Winning anywhere is good."
• On Tuesday, the Indians named first baseman Jesus Aguilar the organization's Minor League player of the week for the period of Aug. 18-24. The 24-year-old Aguilar, who is with Cleveland, hit .462 (12-for-26) with two homers, five doubles, 23 total bases and a 1.385 OPS in the final eight days of Columbus' regular-season schedule.