CLEVELAND — Shane Bieber is determined to pitch again this season.
Cleveland’s ace and the reigning AL Cy Young winner, who has been out since early June with shoulder soreness, was encouraged after throwing in the outfield Friday and said he wants to get back on the mound in 2021.
Bieber began playing catch from 90 feet before moving to 60 feet, where he said he “got on” a couple throws.
Afterward, his smile signaled success.
“Today was a good day,” he told reporters after the session. “The last two days have been good days as well, and I think that’s what it’s all about, being able to stack good days together and continue to progress.”
Bieber doesn’t have a timeline on a return this season, but the 26-year-old is hoping that he can pitch — whether that means throwing a few innings or making several starts.
He’s taking a long-term approach, and so are the Indians, who don’t want to take any chances with the All-Star.
Bieber hasn’t missed this much time since his freshman year in college, and the right-hander said it’s been mentally tough not being able to help his teammates.
“I’ve been throwing every five or seven days since then [college], so this has been tough, mentally, for sure,” he said. “I was also told a few times this isn’t a timeline thing, this is a day-by-day thing, so we’ll see what happens.”
He didn’t get into many specifics about his shoulder but said rest was viewed as his best way back to the mound. The Indians have said he had a strained muscle in his rotator cuff.
“It needed a little bit of rest, and after that we had to try to build things up as quickly and safely as possible,” he said. “I mean, I’m not super enthused about the fact that it’s taken a little bit longer than expected, but it is what it is, and we’ve got to think safety and long term.
“So it came down to getting a little bit of rest by playing some games, and I’m sure you can tell that I’m excited and want to come back as soon as possible.”
Bieber was 7-4 with a 3.28 ERA in 14 starts before the Indians placed him on the injured list. His velocity had noticeably dropped, and Bieber wasn’t as dominant as in the past when the team decided to get him rest.
Bieber won the Cy Young last year after going 8-1 in the shortened season and leading the majors in wins, ERA (1.63) and strikeouts (122).