"He's making some really good strides," Francona said. "It's on how he's doing, but he is doing better. We're pleased about that."
Kluber, who is 3-2 with a 5.06 ERA in six starts this year, exited his outing against the Tigers on May 2 after only three innings and 55 pitches due to the back issue. The pitcher noted that the injury had been a problem off and on throughout April, too. With Kluber on the DL, righty Mike Clevinger (Saturday's probable starter) is filling his spot in the rotation.
Other injury updates:
• Indians outfielder Abraham Almonte remained out of the lineup on Friday due to a right arm issue. In the second inning of Wednesday's game against the Blue Jays, Almonte "felt a pinch" near his shoulder. Francona said tests showed the problem was more in the biceps, but it was not deemed serious enough to warrant a trip to the DL.
"He thinks he can probably play tomorrow," Francona said. "We'll see how he does. I don't think there's any rush to try to get another player here. If that starts to drag on a little bit, I think we certainly have to think about doing some things. But, for right now, I think we'll like to let him try to show up tomorrow and see how he's doing."
• Center fielder Austin Jackson -- on the 10-day disabled list due to a hyperextended left big toe -- continues to receive treatment and make progress. Francona said Jackson is scheduled to go through baserunning drills within the next week and, if all goes well, would then be ticketed for a Minor League rehab assignment.
• Left fielder Michael Brantley, who did not play in the last three-game series in Toronto due to a sprained right ankle, was back in the lineup against the Twins on Friday. Brantley went through running drills on Thursday's off-day and was cleared to return to the field.
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.