MINNEAPOLIS -- Corey Kluber has emerged as one of the most reliable arms in the Indians' rotation this season. The right-hander is also poised to play an important role down the stretch for a Cleveland club trying to stay in the postseason hunt.
Under the circumstances, Indians manager Terry Francona did not want to take any chances when Kluber experienced soreness in his left hip in a 3-2 loss to the Twins on Saturday. Kluber was pulled from the game after turning in five strong innings.
"If he gives up runs because of that, I would've kicked myself," Francona said. "This kid is obviously important to what we're doing moving forward."
Francona does not believe that Kluber's hip issue is serious enough to sideline the pitcher for an extended period of time. With an off-day coming on Thursday, Cleveland could push Kluber's next scheduled start back by a day or two, or skip his turn in the rotation and bring him back for a start against the White Sox on July 30.
"I talked to [head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff] during and after the game," Francona said. "I don't think this is anything that's going to [cost him much time]. We have the off-day coming, so if we need to buy him an extra day or two, we could. But I don't think anybody thinks it'll get in the way."
Kluber kept the Twins off the board and ended with seven strikeouts, giving up three hits and two walks. The right-hander logged 93 pitches, including 55 strikes. Kluber, who indicated that the hip discomfort first flared up in his start on July 12, said that he pitched with soreness throughout the game on Saturday.
The Twins scored three runs in the sixth inning after Kluber's exit.
As Kluber got deeper into his outing, Francona felt the pitcher's delivery was being affected by the injury.
"I would've liked to go more than five innings," said Kluber, who has a 2.22 ERA in July. "But [Francona] said he wanted to get me out of there before it got to the point where I hurt myself. ... He said I was kind of starting to alter my delivery a little bit, throwing with a little more arm and not using my legs."
Kluber is 7-5 with a 3.69 ERA in 18 appearances. Dating back to May 15, the right-hander has posted a 5-3 record and a 3.13 ERA across 77 2/3 innings, during which he has compiled 81 strikeouts against 18 walks.