CLEVELAND -- The plan is for Andrew Miller to return to the bullpen on Thursday, but the club is set to be cautious with him -- until October, that is.
Miller was placed on the 10-day disabled list with patellar tendonitis in his right knee for the second time this season on Aug. 22. He originally sustained the injury earlier in August, returned, and then reaggravated it in his second appearance back from the disabled list.
That prompted the Indians to seek some answers for treatment, even going to the Cavaliers, as that injury is more common in basketball.
Indians manager Terry Francona said on Tuesday that Miller would pitch on Thursday, either for the Indians or in another simulated game. Pitching coach Mickey Callaway updated that on Wednesday, saying that barring a setback, Miller should be added to the active roster and rejoin the major-league club.
"I think that's the route we're going to take," Callaway said. "I think if all goes to plan, and he gets in a game (Thursday), then hopefully a couple days off and maybe get him in another game before the off-day (on Monday). And then, after the off day, we can kind of play around with his usage and try to more prepare him for what he might do moving forward."
The good news from the club is that Miller is in a better place than he was when he came off the disabled list the first time. The issue was that Miller couldn't really plant his lead leg like he needed in his delivery. From all accounts, that is no longer an issue.
"The mechanics of it, the way he's bracing himself when he's throwing his slider, which was the real issue when his knee was bothering him, are all really good," Callaway said. "We've been keeping track of the numbers on Trackman during his sim games and the spin, the velocity, the break, all those things are well in line with what he does during the season. So, we're very encouraged with everything so far."
If he does return, the plan in the early going will be for Miller to follow a schedule set by the medical staff, allowing him to receive regular work at a more cautious pace. The idea is that the club is cautious with him in September so they can really let him go in October.
The Indians have a deep bullpen in addition to Miller, including Cody Allen, Bryan Shaw, Joe Smith, Dan Otero and Tyler Olson and others. But if a postseason game is on the line, the Indians want Miller on the mound when it matters most.
It's in part why the club might be cautious with Miller at first in an effort to ensure he's 100 percent for the American League Division Series and, potentially, beyond.
"It helps knowing you have more depth in the pen, that's for sure," Callaway said. "I think in a playoff game, you're going to pitch your best guys. That's just how it goes. We trust everybody in the bullpen, but when the game is on the line, I think you're going to see Andrew Miller in there pitching most of the time."
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