By Sheldon Ocker
Beacon Journal sports writer
CLEVELAND: How hard is it for the Indians’ deep thinkers to pick a starter for Thursday’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays when the choice is either Trevor Bauer or Trevor Bauer?
As it happens, there is more to the decision than meets the eye. The opportunity for a Triple-A pitcher to make at least one start occurred because Carlos Carrasco was optioned to Columbus on Sunday.
To be accurate, the Tribe does not have to call up Bauer to fill the opening. Danny Salazar, T.J. House or even Daisuke Matsuzaka could be summoned from Columbus, but the odds of that happening are slim.
There is another complication: the status of Zach McAllister, who is on the disabled list with a finger injury. McAllister threw a simulated game on Monday and reported no ill effects.
The timeline for McAllister’s return is uncertain, but he might reclaim his spot in the rotation a few days after the All-Star Game break. If so, whoever starts on Thursday might not make another appearance before heading back to Triple-A.
Asked if McAllister’s status and a spot start are intertwined, manager Terry Franocna said, “Exactly. We’re mulling over a lot of those things.”
Francona said he would have an answer today.
While it’s possible that whoever is called up will get only one start, “One thing we’re not going to do is rush Zach,” Francona said.
McAllister’s simulated game consisted of three innings. Five players from Lake County were brought in, so he could have batters to face. He threw fastballs, cutters and changeups. Between the second and third innings, he got in a little pitchers fielding practice.
“Zach has been throwing his curveball on flat ground,” Francona said. “That is the last thing he’ll do [throw the curve in competition]. We’ll see how he bounces back tomorrow. We could do this again [a sim game], or he could go out and pitch [on a rehab assignment]. It all depends on his symptoms.”
It can be a mental burden to be on the DL, and McAllister has been there for a month. How has he handled it?
“He’s been unbelievably outstanding,” Francona said. “I know that probably isn’t grammatically correct, but that’s how I feel. He soaks up information like a sponge, and he’s there watching every game. He’s also worked really hard on strength and conditioning.”
Sheldon Ocker can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Indians blog at http://www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SheldonOckerABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.