LAA@CLE: Masterson strikes out five in seven innings

DETROIT -- Justin Masterson may not have wanted to go on the disabled list, but the Indians' sinkerballer is willing to accept that it was the right decision for the team. While sidelined, the pitcher has worked diligently on both his delivery and his recovery.

"We've made it beneficial," Masterson said prior to Thursday's workout at Comerica Park. "We've done a great job to make it beneficial. Whether you think you need it or not, make it be in our favor."

During the club's optional practice on Thursday, Masterson threw off the mound in a bullpen session, marking his fourth mound workout since being placed on the 15-day DL with a right knee injury on July 8. Over the All-Star break, Masterson has also played catch to avoid going too long without throwing.

Indians manager Terry Francona noted that the next step for Masterson will be to make a Minor League rehab start for Triple-A Columbus on Sunday, though the team is still determining how many innings the right-hander will go in that outing. What is clear is that Masterson will not be able to return to the big league rotation on Wednesday, when he is first eligible for activation.

Masterson has been pleased with the progress he has made behind the scenes.

"Yeah, I think so," Masterson said. "[I'm] feeling a little bit better. We're putting our body in a better position and not put any more stress on it. Just a touch better in mechanics and a couple other things. Pounding the zone."

On the season, Masterson has gone 4-6 with a 5.51 ERA in 19 starts, during which he has been admittedly bothered off and on by his right knee. Prior to landing on the DL, the big righty posted a 9.50 ERA with nearly as many walks (17) as strikeouts (19) in only 18 innings in his previous five starts combined.

Masterson, who was an American League All-Star last season, knows he needs to be better for his team in the second half.

"When I am doing well," Masterson said, "everyone else is having a good time and playing well. Being one of the leaders on the team, definitely [I want to perform better]. I don't feel like it is added pressure. [I need to] go out and be me and a lot of great things will happen."

Twin bill forces Tribe to get creative with rotation

MIN@CLE: McAllister fans eight Twins in strong outing

DETROIT -- The Indians' front office is always trying to find creative ways to get the most out of the team's roster. With only three active starting pitchers to begin the second half, Cleveland is at it again.

"We're trying to maximize our roster," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "[General manager] Chris Antonetti and his guys really did a good job of making this work. There was a lot of moving parts. They really did a good job."

During Thursday's optional workout at Comerica Park, Francona detailed how the ballclub plans on handling its rotation for the four-game weekend series. Trevor Bauer (Friday), Corey Kluber (Game 1 of Saturday's doubleheader) and Josh Tomlin (Sunday) will cover the original three games. 

For Game 2 on Saturday, the Indians plan on promoting Zach McAllister from Triple-A Columbus for a start as 26th man on the Major League roster. Lefty T.J. House, who was optioned to Class A (short-season) Mahoning Valley on Friday, will then be recalled to start again for Cleveland on Monday in Minnesota.

To stay sharp, House made a start for the Scrappers on Wednesday, turning in five shutout innings with no walks, two hits and four strikeouts against Connecticut.

Cleveland will need a sixth starter for Tuesday's game in Minnesota, but Francona was not ready to reveal who might get the call. The leading candidate would seem to be right-hander Danny Salazar, who has posted a 3.00 ERA with 48 strikeouts and 19 walks in 36 innings across his most recent six starts for Columbus.

"Yes, but we haven't gotten there publicly," said Francona, when asked if Salazar was an option for Tuesday. "We need to talk to players. I have no problem telling you -- I just want to do it in the right order."

Francona overwhelmed by All-Star Brantley

Brantley talks Derby and All-Star Game with MLB.com

DETROIT -- Indians manager Terry Francona was thrilled to be a part of the American League coaching staff for the All-Star Game earlier this week. Rather than worrying about making managerial decisions, Francona enjoyed just soaking in all the festivities.

Francona said the best moment for him did not come during Tuesday's game, though. It came while Indians outfielder Michael Brantley -- Cleveland's lone All-Star this year -- was in the outfield during the AL's workout the day before.

"I was walking around during the workouts talking to guys," Francona said. "And Brantley was standing in center field. He was by himself and I was going to go up and talk to him and realized he was taking balls off the bat. So I went out and stood behind him. He didn't know I was there.

"I watched him for about 10 minutes. I was almost overwhelmed with pride. [Red Sox and AL manager John Farrell] told him he was going to play center and he was out there just to make sure [he was ready]. I watched him and got just an amazing feeling of pride."

Brantley entered the AL's 5-3 victory over the National League in the top of the sixth inning as a defensive replacement in center field. In the bottom of the inning, Cleveland's All-Star grounded out to second base, but it took a highlight-reel play by the Dodgers' Dee Gordon to retire Brantley at first.

"When he hit, I was almost emotional," Francona said. "Maybe I'm just getting old."

Quote to note

"It's good for them to get away, and the optional part is good. Guys who feel like it helps them are here. We're not taking a head count. Some guys that play every day, this is their last chance to get a [rest], and it really helps."
-- Indians manager Terry Francona, on Thursday's optional workout

Smoke signals

• Right-hander C.C. Lee was at Comerica Park for Thursday's workout, but the Indians will not officially recall the reliever from Triple-A Columbus until Friday. Lee will give Francona a 10-man bullpen for at least the first two games in Detroit.

• Francona noted that outfielder Chris Dickerson (left hamstring tightness) is feeling improved and will be available to play on Friday. Dickerson has hit .471 (8-for-17) in five games since being acquired from the Pirates in a trade on July 7.

• Indians center fielder Michael Bourn, who is on the 15-day disabled list with a left hamstring injury, remains in Cleveland while the team begins its 11-game, 10-day road trip. Francona said Cleveland will have an update soon on Bourn's rehab schedule.