MINNEAPOLIS -- The Indians could easily compliment Josh Tomlin on a job well done this season and shut the pitcher down for the remaining two weeks.

Instead, Cleveland is allowing Tomlin -- on the 15-day disabled list with a right elbow issue -- to work through a throwing program with the goal of returning to the rotation before the end of the month. Indians manager Manny Acta said the injury is not severe enough to warrant pulling the plug on Tomlin's year.

"If a guy is ready to play, there's no sense in shutting them down," Acta said. "If you have any doubts -- be it a pitcher or anybody else -- that it's a really serious injury, that's when you shut the guy down."

Tomlin is thrilled to have the chance to make a comeback this season.

"I'm very eager to get out there," said the sidelined starter. "I just want to get out there and get back on the mound. That's why you play the game, is to be out there competing. Not having that edge about you on the mound amd trying to compete, it's been kind of frustrating."

Tomlin (12-7, 4.25 ERA) played catch in left field prior to Friday's game against the Twins at Target Field. The right-hander indicated that he is scheduled to throw off a mound in a bullpen session on Saturday. If all goes well in that workout, and the planned simulated game early next week in Cleveland, Tomlin could start against the Twins on Sept. 24.

Tomlin, who has no prior history with an elbow injury, landed on the DL with inflammation in his throwing elbow on Sept. 9. Tomlin has already completed one bullpen session without incident and has been feeling better than even he anticipated.

"It's been feeling great," Tomlin said. "It's been better than I expected, to be honest with you. I haven't had any kind of symptoms. The biggest thing for me is not having that feeling in the back of mind where I'm trying to be cautious with it and not let it go, trying to baby it a little bit.

"I haven't had that feeling at all yet. I'm going out there and throwing with everything I've got and it's been feeling good. That's a positive sign for me, for sure."

Acta wants Indians' attention down stretch

MINNEAPOLIS -- The last thing Indians manager Manny Acta wants is for dashed dreams to develop into late-season doldrums. That is why Cleveland held a team meeting prior to Friday's game against the Twins.

Acta wanted to make sure his players maintained their focus down the stretch, even though the Tigers were on the verge of officially capturing the American League Central crown. The Tribe had hoped to be sipping champagne by now, but the ballclub must now alter its goals.

"It was just to let the guys know that we have two weeks of baseball to play," Acta said of the meeting. "We should try to make the best effort to finish strong. I know how they feel, because I felt it, too, after the last series against Detroit. It's a normal feeling, when in front of you, you can see your dreams and your goals kind of being shattered.

"You go through a few days kind of almost like a hangover. But, you have to get right back up. There are a lot of games left and a lot of things to play for. You just have to shift your goals. That's it. If we're not going to win the division, then second place is there for grabs. Let's go."

Acta was referring to the Sept. 5-7 series against the Tigers, who swept that three-game set during their recent 12-game winning streak. On May 23, the Indians were 30-15 and held a seven-game lead atop the Central. Since then, Cleveland has gone 42-60, while Detroit has posted a 63-40 ledger.

Entering Friday, the 72-75 Tribe was three games under .500 for the first time this season and tied with the White Sox for second in the division. Beyond maintaining a hold on the Central's second spot, Acta said ending the year with a winning record was one of the team's remaining goals.

"It's very important," Acta said. "You can't just have one goal and that's it, because then, if you can't accomplish it, you're going to be crushed. We have the right to shift goals. Right now, that's part of it. Finish second. Winning record. All that kind of stuff plays into it and you've got to motivate yourself to do that.

"You can't spend the next two weeks feeling sorry about yourself because you didn't win the division."

Hannahan likely to return against White Sox

MINNEAPOLIS -- Third baseman Jack Hannahan will not be rejoining the Indians during the team's series against the Twins as initially planned.

Hannahan, who is sidelined with a left calf injury, is still working through a rehab program in Cleveland. On Friday, Indians manager Manny Acta said Hannahan would be back with the team, beginning Monday.

"We feel that he needs to run the bases one more time," Acta said. "That would probably eliminate his chances of playing over here. So why bring him over? He's staying at home. He's going to be available when we get back."

Acta indicated that, barring a setback, Hannahan will likely start one of the games during Tuesday's day-night doubleheader against the White Sox. With Cleveland all but eliminated from the postseason picture, Lonnie Chisenhall will likely get the bulk of the playing time at third down the stretch.

Hannahan, who is hitting .248 with eight homers and 36 RBIs in 104 games this season, has not played since Sept. 4 due to the calf issue.

Quote to note

"The fans here have always been very good. It's always cool to come back to a place where you've played before. If the fans show you love, you love them back." -- Indians designated hitter Jim Thome, on returning to Minnesota.

Smoke signals

• Right fielder Shin-Soo Choo, who is done for the season after aggravating a left oblique injury on Thursday, flew back to Cleveland instead of staying with the Tribe for the team's series in Minnesota. With Choo out of the picture, Kosuke Fukudome will start in right field for the remainder of the season.

• At its current rate, the Indians' offense projects to end the season with roughly 1,280 strikeouts. That would break the franchise's all-time single-season record (1,213 in 2008) and would mark the third-highest single-season total in the history of the American League. Entering Friday, Cleveland led the league with 1,162 strikeouts (7.9 per game).

• Entering Friday, outfielder/first baseman Shelley Duncan was hitting .311 (14-for-45) with five homers, three doubles, nine runs scored and 11 RBIs in 12 games in September. His five homers were tied for the second-most in the American League for the month. Duncan had a .326 average, dating to July 3.