CLEVELAND -- The Indians will surely explore the trade market for starting pitching help in the coming weeks, but they also know they have a big right-hander working his way back into the rotation picture.
On Monday, Zach McAllister threw three innings off a mound in a simulated game at Progressive Field, working through 50 pitches against a handful of hitters from low Class A Lake County. He felt good during the brief session and might be sent on a Minor League rehab assignment for the next step in his comeback from a sprained right middle finger.
"I was really happy with it," McAllister, 25, said of the simulated game. "Everything came out the way I wanted it to, and it was nice to be able to see some hitters again."
McAllister took breaks between innings to simulate a game environment, and mixed in fielding drills between the second and third frames. He threw only fastballs, changeups, cutters and splitters, staying away from the breaking ball, which poses the most problems for his finger.
Manager Terry Francona said that adding the breaking ball will be one of the final steps of McAllister's program.
"It all depends on symptoms," Francona said. "That's the last thing that's going to come in this progression. And it's all on how he feels."
For the season, McAllister is 4-5 with a 3.43 ERA in 11 starts, striking out 45 and walking 22 across 65 2/3 innings. He went 0-2 with a 6.52 ERA in his last two starts before landing on the 15-day disabled list on June 8. He went 4-3 with a 2.89 ERA in the nine previous outings.
Francona is impressed with the way McAllister has handled his time on the sidelines.
"I would actually say [he's been] unbelievably outstanding," he said. "That's probably not grammatically correct, but it's how I feel. He is like a sponge anyway, and he's out there for every inning of every game. He watches everything. He has worked as hard as humanly possible."