Lefty Brad Hand is available to pitch for the Cleveland Indians as the Tribe opens a weekend series against Philadelphia, manager Terry Francona announced Friday. Hand missed more than two weeks recovering from a sore pitching arm and has not appeared in a game since Sept. 8
How Francona chooses to use Hand in a game situation, however, remains uncertain.
“The way I explained it to him was that if this was June, he’d probably face some hitters today,” Francona said. “It’s not June. We’ve got nine games left. So for this to work, I’ve got to be a little flexible, the training staff has to be a little flexible and Brad has to be a little flexible.”
Francona said if the situation presents itself early in a game, Hand might be called upon to face a Phillies left-handed hitter. Ultimately, the goal is to have Hand pitch the ninth inning in a save situation, but Francona would not commit to a specific role for the 29-year-old All-Star.
“I don’t know that it’s fair to do that the first game back after what he’s been through,” Francona said. “We’ll see how the game progresses.”
Hand has appeared in 59 games and logged 56 1/3 innings with 81 strikeouts and 18 walks. He earned his third straight All-Star selection by going 23-for-24 in save opportunities with a 2.17 ERA through early July, but struggled after the break with five blown saves and an ERA that ballooned to 5.16.
After narrowly escaping with a save against Minnesota on Sept. 8, the Indians sent Hand back to Cleveland in the middle of their road trip to Anaheim for an MRI on his sore left elbow. He missed the club’s critical three-game weekend series against the Twins at Progressive Field while beginning a rehab program during the club’s current nine-game homestand.