"He's going to pitch for us his next start. Most likely, it'll be Thursday," Francona said before Saturday's game against the Royals. "So other than that, we have so many days off coming up after that point that I'd like to sit with [pitching coach Mickey Callaway] and the other guys and kind of map out what's in our best interest, putting some parameters in place like just who we're playing, the days off, all those things. We haven't fit all those things together yet, but he will pitch for us."
Kluber had been dealing with back pain since his second start of the season on April 9 against the D-backs, and he was placed on the 10-day disabled list after leaving his start on May 3 against the Tigers with a lower back strain.
Kluber is 3-2 with a 5.06 ERA and 41 strikeouts in his six starts (37 1/3 innings) this season. The right-hander allowed one hit with no walks and one strikeout in his first rehab outing on Friday night. He retired the final 14 batters he faced and led the RubberDucks to a 10-0 victory.
"Good," Kluber said when asked how his rehab start went. "I didn't get an opportunity to throw a whole lot of pitches yesterday. But I was able to go down to the bullpen after the game and get stretched out to the point where we wanted to get to. Getting up and down and kind of sitting, then heating it back up, didn't have any issues with that. That was kind of the big test for yesterday. It went well. No issues with it."
Francona said the plan, for now, is to have the other starting pitchers make one more start before Thursday.
"[Kluber was] almost too fine [on Friday]," Francona said. "He only threw 47 pitches, so he went to the bullpen and threw another 15. Today, he said normal soreness, which is good. And we talked for awhile. When we put it together, I'll certainly explain it and the why's and all that."
Although Kluber wanted to pitch through the injury, he said that he didn't want it to hurt the team by not being 100 percent.
"I think that's obviously the point we got to. We tried for a while to kind of manage it and figure out ways to still be able to go out there and pitch and stuff," he said. "It kind of just got the point where, little by little, it got worse. It kind of got to the point where I wasn't doing myself any favors, I wasn't doing the team any favors by kind of guessing every time out, how it was going to react."