CLEVELAND -- The Indians will not know if right-hander Roberto Hernandez will need to miss a start until the sinkerballer tests his ailing right ankle on a mound again. That step is expected to come on Wednesday afternoon.
"The test is going to be tomorrow," Indians manager Manny Acta said prior to Tuesday's game against the A's. "That's his side day, his bullpen. [Head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff] is very optimistic that it's nothing serious and that he's going to be OK."
During the third inning of Monday's 3-0 loss to Oakland, Hernandez twisted his ankle while running off the mound to back up home plate after giving up a one-out double to Yoenis Cespedes. Hernandez proceeded to throw two pitches to the next batter, Seth Smith, before being pulled from the game with a sprained ankle.
Hernandez played catch in left field during Cleveland's pregame workout on Tuesday and came away from the throwing session feeling improved.
"He's got a little bit of inflammation there," Acta acknowledged, "but he feels good. He tests right for Lonnie."
Against the A's, Hernandez was charged with three runs on four hits in 2 1/3 innings, and he slipped to 0-3 with a 7.53 ERA through his first three starts of the season. Despite that overall pitching line, the Indians have been encouraged by the early showing from Hernandez, who missed the first four months while dealing with legal issues.
Hernandez was arrested in January on charges of using a false identity (Fausto Carmona) and did not gain his visa to return to the United States until July 21.
"He's been more in the zone than where I've seen him in the past," Acta said. "It's only been three games and he's not lighting the world on fire, but those three games he has been able to throw strikes and attack the zone, and he hasn't self-destructed."
Acta send the final month of the season will be crucial for evaluating Hernandez, whose restructured contract includes a $6 million club option for 2013.
"It's very important for him and for us," Acta said, "to be able to see him and evaluate him to make a decision."