The Cleveland Indians' efforts to close the gap in the American League Central were dealt a blow with the news that left-hander Brad Hand might not be available for a key weekend series against the Minnesota Twins.

Because of decreased velocity and second-half struggles that saw Hand blow four save opportunities and post a 5.68 ERA since the All-Star break, Hand was sent back to Cleveland for an MRI that did not show any structural issues. But the Indians are ready rest their All-Star closer anyway.

"He just hasn't been bouncing back," Indians manager Terry Francona told reporters. "And he's been getting lower on his lower arm slot. We can't treat the guys right when it's convenient. You gotta do the right thing, regardless of the time of year."

After a sweep of the Los Angeles Angels in California this week, the Indians have cut the Twins' division lead to four games. They open a three-game series at home against Minnesota on Friday after an off day Thursday.

"For us, it's really bad," fellow left-hander Oliver Perez said about Hand's questionable status, according to mlb.com. "But at the same time, we have to face the game. We have to do everything we can, and we know we can do our jobs, and that's what we need to do. We stay one out at a time."

Hand is 6-4 this season with a 3.36 ERA and has 34 saves in 39 opportunities. The three-time All-Star leads the American League with 54 games finished.

--Field Level Media

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