Kluber will be eligible to be activated from the 10-day disabled list on Saturday, but Francona made it clear that the pitcher will require more time to return to full strength. With Kluber still out, the Indians' rotation will consist of Josh Tomlin (Friday), Mike Clevinger (Saturday) and Trevor Bauer (Sunday) for the upcoming home series against the Twins.
On May 2, Kluber exited his outing against the Tigers after three innings due to the lower-back strain, which the pitcher said had been a problem off and on in April as well. The righty was placed on the DL the following day, and Cleveland later promoted Clevinger from Triple-A Columbus to take Kluber's spot in the rotation.
Kluber's back issue comes after the righty logged a career-high 249 1/3 innings between the regular season and playoffs last year. He went 22-10 with a 2.96 ERA and 262 strikeouts in 38 total starts, helping the Indians reach the World Series and then finishing third in voting for the American League Cy Young Award.
Francona said he had a feeling Kluber's injury would require more than a 10-day recovery period.
"Your first hope is that, 'OK, a couple days and, bam, you're OK,'" Francona said. "That probably wasn't as realistic as you would've hoped. And I think, knowing that he's going to need a five-day cycle to get back, I kind of figured. But, I also think he's going to be OK. I just think that rather than rush him back, and then have him fight it all summer, let's try to get ahead of it."
Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.