By Sheldon Ocker
Beacon Journal sports writer
MINNEAPOLIS: It’s a long season, and Indians starting pitchers have begun to show wear and tear.
Corey Kluber followed Zach McAllister as the second Tribe starter to be brought down by a sprained middle finger. McAllister is back in the rotation, but he missed seven weeks with the malady.
Tuesday, Kluber began a long toss program.
‘‘He went to 60 feet with the finger taped up a little,’’ manager Terry Francona said Tuesday. ‘‘He’s progressing very well. It seems like he’s healing quickly. In the meantime, he’s been in the weight room killing it.
‘‘He’s going to be OK, but I don’t know when he’s going to pitch.’’
When Kluber sustained the injury, it was estimated that he would be out of action from four to six weeks, putting his return between early and mid-September.
The long toss program works this way: Kluber will increase his throwing distance from 60 to 20 feet over time, wearing protective tape on his injured finger. When he reaches the longest distance, he will start over again but without the protective tape.
When he completes the long toss program, he will start throwing off the mound, then face hitters. Kluber might not go on a rehab assignment because minor-league seasons end about Labor Day.
Francona was ready to push Justin Masterson’s next start back a couple of days when he noticed that Masterson’s velocity was down in his start Sunday, when he gave up four earned runs to the Angels in 4⅓ innings, his shortest outing of the season.
‘‘I questioned him multiple times,’’ the manager said. ‘‘Because of the off day, ‘We can move you back.’ He told me, ‘I don’t need it,’ and his bullpen today was very good.’’
Scott Kazmir will throw a bullpen today after being told his next start would be delayed three days to get his ‘‘dead arm’’ extra rest. He is scheduled to start Sunday against the Athletics in Oakland.
‘‘It feels so much better now,’’ Kazmir said.
It’s not surprising that Kazmir had to take a breather. He has thrown 114 innings this season, more than any year since 2010, when he threw 150 for the Angels.
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.