CLEVELAND -- Zach McAllister isn't snapping off breaking balls just yet, but the right-hander is making progress in his effort to overcome a sprained right middle finger that has kept him on the 15-day disabled list since June 3.
McAllister threw 60 pitches (fastballs, changeups and cutters) in a bullpen session before Friday's series opener against Detroit. He is scheduled to throw on flat ground on Saturday and see how it feels to spin a curveball, the pitch that troubled his injured finger the most. If that goes well, he might mix in some breaking balls during a simulated game on Monday at Progressive Field.
"He's doing terrific. That's the good news," said Tribe manager Terry Francona, who mentioned that a rehab start soon after the All-Star break is a "distinct possibility" for McAllister. "And we want him back yesterday. But you can't do it that way.
"It's all going to come back on what's in his best interests, and not just short term, but long term."
McAllister last piched on June 2, when he lost to Tampa Bay at home. In that outing, McAllister did not throw any curveballs, and he allowed five runs (four earned) over 4 1/3 innings. In each of his prior 12 outings, McAllister had held his opponent to three runs or fewer while lasting at least five innings.
In 11 starts this season, McAllister is 4-5 with a 3.43 ERA. Across 65 2/3 innings, the righty has issued 23 walks and 45 strikeouts. Opponents have hit .264 against McAllister, who has a WHIP of 1.37.
"It's been a process for me," McAllister said. "This is really my first stint on the DL in my career. So, it's been a learning process of not being out there. I've tried to learn how to cheer on the guys and do anything else I can to help out. It's been a grind, but I'm learning from it."
Tribe calls up Carrasco, options Martinez
CLEVELAND -- The Indians announced after Friday's game that reliever Joe Martinez was optioned to Triple-A Columbus to make room for Carlos Carrasco, who will be recalled to start Saturday afternoon against Detroit.
In five starts for Cleveland this season, Carrasco is 0-3 with an 8.17 ERA. Across 25 1/3 innings, the right-hander has issued 12 walks and 13 strikeouts, and opponents are hitting .336 against him. With the Clippers, Carrasco has a 2-0 record and 3.10 ERA over 11 outings (nine starts).
Carrasco's finest performance for the Indians this year came on June 17, when he held the Royals to a run and four hits in 7 1/3 innings of work.
"That's probably a little bit much to ask for every outing, but boy, I'll tell you what, that's what we've kind of been hoping for," Tribe manager Terry Francona said afterward.
As for Martinez, the righty made two appearances with the Indians since his contract was selected on June 29. Martinez allowed two hits in two innings that day and on Friday gave up a run and two hits in three innings against the Tigers.
"You know what, he did a good job," Francona said. "He throws strikes, he works quick, he behaves himself. [I] just told him, I said, 'Guys like you, you find your way back to the big leagues.' Just because we like having him around. He'll take the ball. You know he's going to throw it over the plate. He did a good job."
Francona reflects on All-Star managing experiences
CLEVELAND -- As somebody who has managed in the All-Star Game on two occasions, Terry Francona knows a little bit about the various intricacies of the job.
In 2005 and '08, Francona and Tribe third-base coach Brad Mills kept lists of the players they thought were most deserving of All-Star Game invitations, even though the manager rarely gets to make selections. Francona said Tigers skipper Jim Leyland, who is managing the American League team in the 2013 All-Star Game, has done something similar this season.
"We were real organized, just like I know Jim is, because I've talked to him about it," Francona said. "And you're ready, if need be.
"If anybody's known Jim Leyland for 30 seconds, then you know he's going to spend, he's going to treat it with so much integrity ... it'll be handled with integrity and a lot of passion. He'll do it right."
Between fan voting, player voting and any other method by which All-Stars are determined, Francona said managers don't often get to choose which players will appear on their rosters. Francona and Mills still kept their lists, though, and they even reached out to players who deserved to make the game but had little chance of doing so.
Whether Leyland's list contains the names of Jason Kipnis, Justin Masterson or Carlos Santana is unclear. But Masterson came into his Friday start with 10 wins, tied for sixth-most in baseball. Kipnis was recently named the AL Player of the Month after batting .419 in June. And Santana's play has put him among the top vote-getters for AL catchers since the balloting began.
"The All-Star process itself is not fair," Francona said, "and I'm not saying that [in a] bad [way]. I understand it. I was fortunate enough to go through it a couple times. But, there's always going to be some players left off that are deserving, and we all know that."
Francona was far from comfortable in the late innings of the 2008 All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium. As the tie game kept seeing extra inning after extra inning, he became increasingly worried about what roster decisions to make.
"I was very lucky," said Francona, who had to balance the pursuit of winning with the desire to play everybody. "That game in New York, we were in about the 14th inning. I remember staring at the lineup card and Leyland was next to me. He said, 'Big boy, you can look at that lineup card all you want -- you're not going to find another pitcher.'"
Fortunately for Francona and the rest of the AL squad, Michael Young brought home Justin Morneau with a sacrifice fly in the 15th inning, sending the AL to a 4-3 win and ending the longest All-Star Game in baseball history.
"I was praying and saying that I would give up tobacco," Francona said. "There was like three things that I was going to give up, and then we scored and I was like, 'Nah, I didn't mean it.'"
Report: Indians interested in acquiring Cubs' Garza
CLEVELAND -- Matt Garza's string of dominating performances has reportedly captured the Tribe's attention.
According to ESPN's Buster Olney, Cleveland is among the handful of teams that are actively talking to the Cubs about acquiring Garza. The right-handed hurler is 3-0 with a 0.90 ERA in his last four starts. Garza has 28 strikeouts and eight walks during the 30 innings of that span.
On the season, Garza is 4-1 with a 3.45 ERA across nine starts. In 57 1/3 innings, he's issued 52 strikeouts and 19 walks (one intentional).
If the Indians traded for Garza, he'd join a rotation that entered Friday with a 30-32 record and 4.48 ERA, which ranks 11th in the American League. Of players likely to wind up with new teams before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, Garza is the "belle of the ball" in Olney's eyes.
Quote to note
"We got to beat everybody. You can't just beat one team. That's why every series is so big, because they all actually count the same. Now, when you play somebody head up, if you beat them, you're guaranteeing they're losing. And again, I'm not that smart, but it helps. " -- Indians manager Terry Francona on playing the Tigers, who entered Friday with a 6-2 record against Cleveland this season.
• Second baseman Jason Kipnis brought a 15-game hitting streak into Friday's series opener against Detroit. In that time, Kipnis is batting .462 (24-for-52) with 13 extra-base hits, 20 RBIs and a 1.450 OPS. Kipnis has also reached base via a hit, walk, or hit by pitch in 35 straight games.
• Mark Reynolds entered Friday with a .171 average, three home runs and 52 strikeouts in his last 35 games. Francona talked a bit about the inconsistencies of the player who began the season with a .291 average, 11 home runs and 32 strikeouts over his first 31 contests.
"Sometimes, his bat is in and out of the zone more than it was," Francona said. "He had such a good streak there for a while where he was staying through the zone so well, that even when he missed, you know, but he's had just a little bit of movement with his body, so his bat's in and out of the zone a little quicker than normal. I actually thought the last week or so it's been better. But, that's really all it is."
• Friday's game at Progressive Field was sold out. The first 10,000 fans to arrive at the ballpark for Saturday's 4:05 p.m. ET game against Detroit will receive 1904 replica caps that are navy blue and feature Cleveland's block "C." In Monday's series finale, the first 10,000 fans at the gate will go home with Omar Vizquel bobbleheads.
Mark Emery is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.