April 23, 2014

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Indians notes: Terry Francona says pitcher Zach McAllister doing well, could begin rehab after All-Star break

CLEVELAND — Manager Terry Francona said Zach McAllister (right middle finger sprain) is progressing well and that the right-hander could begin a minor league rehab assignment shortly after the All-Star break.

“We’ll see how it goes, but I think that’s a distinct possibility,” said Francona of McAllister, who has been sidelined since June 8, but threw 60 pitches off the mound at Progressive Field prior to the series opener with Detroit on Friday.

The next step for McAllister (4-5, 3.43 ERA) is a simulated game Monday against hitters from Class A Lake County.

The Indians contend McAllister sustained the injury while gripping his curveball too tightly and that it was not the grip on a split-finger fastball that he developed this spring that caused the problems.

He has yet to throw any breaking balls during the rehab process.

“Rather than set a date, it’s kind of on how he’s doing,” Francona said. “He’s doing terrific. That’s the good news. We want him back yesterday but you can’t do it that way. It’s all going to come back to what’s in his best interests, and not just short-term but long-term.”

Tigers time

Francona has held the same one-game-at-a-time approach all season, which is a big reason he places no extra significance on this four-game series against first-place Detroit.

“We gotta beat everybody,” said Francona, whose club owns a 2-7 record against the Tigers. “You can’t just beat one team. That’s why every series is so big. This one will be fun because it’s the weekend, there’s going to be a lot of people, they’re a really good team, so it will be a fun series to play, but they’re all important.

“Every single game is crucial. It’s part of what makes our game so fun. And the more you win the more crucial they get.”

Francona is satisfied his players have adopted his approach.

“Win, lose or draw, they always play,” he said. “We don’t know where this is going to end up, but myself and the staff feel pretty comfortable that we’re not going to get short-changed by our players.”

Call to arms

Francona confirmed that right-hander Carlos Carrasco (0-3, 8.17 ERA) will be promoted from Triple-A Columbus today to start against Detroit. Carrasco, who has made five starts for Cleveland this year, was optioned back to Columbus after allowing six runs on 10 hits over 5⅔ innings of a 9-8 win at Chicago last Saturday.

The Indians will have to clear a roster spot for Carrasco, with reliever Joe Martinez expected to be sent back down.

Right-hander Anibal Sanchez (6-5, 2.76) will leave the disabled list to start for the Tigers.

Star struck

All but two members of the American League and National League All-Star rosters will be announced tonight. One player on each roster will be elected by internet fan vote.

Catcher Carlos Santana was the only Cleveland player among the leaders of fan balloting for starters, ranking fourth. Starting pitcher Justin Masterson, and more so, second baseman Jason Kipnis, are also considered candidates.

The reserves will be chosen by player/manager vote, with Detroit’s Jim Leyland in charge of the AL.

“The All-Star process itself is not fair, and I’m not saying that in a bad way,” said Francona, who has managed the AL team twice. “There’s always going to be some players left off that are deserving.

“If anyone’s known Jim Leyland for 30 seconds, then you know he’s going to treat it with so much integrity. There’s so many things that you have to take into consideration and so many things that are out of the manager’s hands. He’ll do it right.”

Roundin’ third

The Indians employed their Opening Day lineup for just the fifth time this season and the first time since April 6. It is the lineup most frequently used by Cleveland, which employed 70 different versions through its first 85 games.

* Omar Vizquel will meet with reporters prior to today’s game, with the Indians holding “Omar Vizquel Bobblehead Night” on Monday.

Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him @CAwesomeheimer on Twitter.