ATLANTA -- Corey Kluber might be back in the Indians' rotation earlier than expected.
On Wednesday, Kluber threw off a mound in a 45-pitch bullpen session, cycling through fastballs, changeups and cutters to test his injured right middle finger. Following a simulated game on Saturday in Detroit, Kluber may be ready to be activated from the 15-day disabled list.
"That might be his last time throwing before pitching for us," pitching coach Mickey Callaway said of the upcoming sim game. "We do a lot of things in September."
Callaway was referring to the fact that baseball's rosters expand to 40 players on Sept. 1, when Cleveland can add some pitching reinforcements. The Minor League season will be over soon, robbing Kluber the chance to build up his innings with rehab starts, but the pitcher could log a shorter start and have the bullpen (or possibly another starter) help pick him up.
Callaway noted that one option could be to have Kluber piggyback with a starter such as Danny Salazar or Scott Kazmir, who have each dealt with workload limits this month. Manager Terry Francona agreed that the team could find a way to make Kluber's return work, even if he is not ready to handle four or five innings right away.
"Kluber did really well today [in the bullpen], which was not a surprise," Francona said. "He's kind of flying through this. ... We'll run into September and, as long as he's throwing the ball well, even if he's not fully stretched out, he can still help us. Those are things we have to figure out."
It was initially forecasted that Kluber would be sidelined until mid- to late-September.
Kluber, who has gone 7-5 with a 3.54 ERA through 21 games this season, has yet to throw his curveball, but he will test that pitch in a flat-ground throwing session prior to possibly trying it off the mound on Saturday. The right-hander said he has been pleased with his command in his mound workouts to this point.
"Both today and Monday, I was kind of surprised how well it went," Kluber said on Wednesday. "I hadn't been off the mound in three weeks before Monday. I was expecting to be a little more erratic than it was, but I was pleasantly surprised."
Kluber said he was extremely eager to rejoin the Indians.
"Definitely. Sitting around watching is no fun," he said. "Not being able to get out there, you live and die a little more with each game, because you can't do anything about it. Hopefully soon I'll be able to get back out there and try to help out."
Indians place Raburn on DL, promote Carson
ATLANTA -- The Indians attempted to give Ryan Raburn time to rest and recover from a mixture of ongoing leg issues, but decided on Wednesday that the best course of action was the disabled list.
Prior to Cleveland's game against the Braves, the Indians placed Raburn on the 15-day DL with a strained left Achilles tendon. The utility man has also been bothered off and on over the past few months by a right calf injury.
Raburn tested his legs with some running drills and took part in batting practice prior to Tuesday's game at Turner Field, and said after the workout that going on the disabled list was a possibility.
"We were trying not to [put Raburn on the DL]," Indians manager Terry Francona said on Wednesday. "I think we thought he'd be OK last night, but when he went through BP he was still kind of a little hesitant to let it go. I just felt like it's not fair to him."
Raburn's stay on the shelf is retroactive to Aug. 19, meaning he will be eligible for activation on Tuesday. Cleveland's roster will expand to 40 players on Sunday, giving the club a chance to add reinforcements.
To fill Raburn's spot on the active roster, Cleveland purchased the contract of 32-year-old outfielder Matt Carson from Triple-A Columbus. To vacate a spot on the 40-man roster for Carson, the Indians transferred infielder Cord Phelps (right wrist inflammation) to the 60-day DL.
Raburn, who has not appeared in a game since going 1-for-4 with a home run against the A's on Aug. 18, has hit .272 with 15 home runs, 29 extra-base hits and 41 RBIs through 71 games this season. Cleveland has used Raburn (recently signed to a two-year extension) as a part-timer in the outfield, second base and as a designated hitter.
Entering Wednesday, Raburn ranked first in the Majors in home runs among players with no more than 250 at-bats. Among those with no more than 300 at-bats, only Atlanta's Brian McCann (18 homers) and Evan Gattis (15) had at least as many as Raburn.
Carson -- who had stints with the A's and Twins in parts of three seasons between 2009-12 -- signed a Minor League contract with Cleveland over the winter. The right-handed outfielder had five home runs and 11 RBIs in 27 games in Spring Training, and has hit .252 with 14 homers and 49 RBIs in 121 games at Triple-A this season.
"Unfortunately, someone had to get hurt for that to happen," Carson said of being promoted. "I know that's not the way you want it to happen, but sometimes that's the way it works out. It was a pleasant surprise."
Tribe keeps close count on Salazar's pitches
ATLANTA -- When it comes to handling the workload of pitcher Danny Salazar, Indians manager Terry Francona is taking it start by start.
During Tuesday's 2-0 loss to the Braves, Francona lifted Salazar after four innings and 77 pitches, sticking with a similar pitch count as the right-hander's previous two appearances. Francona noted that he and general manager Chris Antonetti, along with pitching coach Mickey Callaway, discuss the situation frequently.
"We've pretty much talked it over every start with Chris and Mickey," Francona said on Wednesday. "We kind of set some, not parameters, but ... we're trying to keep him from reaching back in his last inning of work. That's one of the goals."
Francona said each outing has been different.
On Aug. 7, Salazar threw a season-high 103 pitches in a loss to the Tigers, but he had been performing at a high level and only logged 52 pitches in his previous outing in the Minor Leagues. Due to the high stress level of the start against Detroit, Francona limited the pitcher to 71 pitches in four innings against the Twins on Aug. 12.
In Anaheim on Aug. 20, Salazar was pulled at 75 pitches after 5 1/3 innings. Francona's reasoning was that the Angels had their Nos. 4-6 hitters coming up with the Halos clinging to a 1-0 lead. Francona's explanation for his handling of Salazar on Tuesday night was that the pitcher had logged a couple of long innings in the tightly-contested game in Atlanta.
"Every start," Francona said. "There's been a reason to take him out."
The Indians are being cautious with the 23-year-old Salazar, because he is three seasons removed from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow and he has already worked a career-high 120 innings. This season, Salazar averaged 70 pitches per game (15.8 per inning) in 21 Minor League outings compared to 83 pitches per game (15.4 per inning) in five starts in the Majors.
"I've explained it to him, too. He understands," Francona said. "I went up to him [Tuesday], because it was 2-0. I said, 'A year from now, you'll be fighting through this game and trying to win.' I said, 'Right now, we need to take care of this.' He understands."
Quote to note
"That immediately came to mind. The last couple teams I've played on in the big leagues, they weren't contenders. They were good teams, but not contenders. Now, it's going to be a different feel. I'm excited. It's going to be a lot of fun."
--Outfielder Matt Carson, on joining the Indians during a playoff chase
• On Tuesday, Triple-A Columbus right-hander Josh Tomlin made his first start since being activated from the 60-day disabled list, turning in five shutout innings against Louisville. In his comeback from Tommy John surgery, the former Indians starter has posted a 1.61 ERA with 16 strikeouts, 13 hits and no walks in 22 1/3 innings.
"He's such a favorite here," Francona said. "Every time he's around, you can tell he's such a good teammate, and a guy everybody is pulling for. He's doing well. He's got a little ways to go. That's part of the deal. You don't just grab a ball and all of a sudden you get everybody out, but he's doing a really good job."
• In the second inning of Tuesday's 2-0 loss to the Braves, rookie pitcher Danny Salazar shook off catcher Carlos Santana in a 2-2 count to Elliot Johnson. Santana wanted an offspeed pitch, but Salazar chose to throw a sixth consecutive fastball, which Johnson clubbed to right-center field for a two-run triple.
"If he gets him out, we're like, 'Boy, Danny showed some instincts there. He threw the pitch he wanted,'" Francona said. "We always tell the pitchers that the catcher is leading them, but they have the final say. So, if you're not going to throw a pitch with conviction, [shake the catcher off]. But in that situation, I think it was a learning experience."
• Indians right fielder Drew Stubbs crashed into the wall at Turner Field in the second inning on Tuesday, attempting to catch Johnson's triple. On Wednesday, Stubbs was sporting a large ice pack on his right shoulder, but remained in the lineup for the Tribe. Both Stubbs and Francona said the discomfort was not serious.
• Entering Wednesday's Interleague tilt with the Braves, the Indians had a 9-6 record (3-5 on the road) against National League opponents this season. Cleveland had outscored its Interleague foes, 64-50, averaging 4.3 runs per game on offense and posting a 3.18 ERA as a pitching staff. The Tribe was 146-152 all-time in Interleague Play.