Miller took another step Wednesday when he threw about 40 pitches from the mound at Progressive Field prior to the Tribe's game against Cincinnati. Francona said Miller will test the knee again on Saturday. After that, Indians coaches, trainers and Miller himself will sit down and discuss the next step in his return to active status.
"The good side of it is he's way more comfortable in his delivery, he even looks it," Francona said. "So he's trending in a good way, which is really obviously huge for us."
Miller is progressing to the point where he is ready to face hitters, but in the past he has balked at the idea of pitching to his own teammates.
"I get it," Francona said. "So if he's not going to get the most out of it, we've even talked maybe about sending him down to Akron or something. Nothing's perfect, but we're going to get together and see what we think's the best thing."
Miller's second stint on the disabled list began back on May 26. Since then, the 2016 ALCS MVP has taken baby steps in his progress, consulting specialists for second opinions, trying new ways to tape or brace the aggravated knee and slowly easing his way into a throwing program.
Francona said before any decisions are made Miller needs to be seen in a competitive setting.
"It's been a while now, he needs to pitch," Francona said. "I think just for his own well-being."
The Indians are fortunate, in a sense, that it's only July and there is still time to bring Miller back and let him get comfortable before October.
"We've all seen what he can do when he gets on a roll," Francona said. "We've just got to do it right. And up to this point we have. I think we're going to get rewarded for it at some point because he's going to help us a ton."
Francona said Miller's teammates know he is coming, and that despite the struggles, the time without the bullpen's ace lefty has given other pitchers an opportunity they wouldn't have otherwise gotten.
"In the long run it will make guys better and I believe that," Francona said. "Mac (Zach McAllister) has had time to kind of get through some of those struggles. O.T. (Dan Otero), I think we'll be better for it. Our record might not be, but when we get fully healthy we can be a better team."
Indians activate Olson; designate Rzepczysnki
Lefty reliever Tyler Olson has been activated from the 10-day disabled list and lefty Marc Rzepczynski has been designated for assignment, the Indians announced Wednesday.
Olson went on the DL June 17 with a left latissimus dorsi strain. Prior to revealing the injury, Olson compiled a 1-1 record with a 7.27 earned run average and 23 strikeouts in 28 appearances.
"He seems to be champing at the bit, which is always a good thing," manager Terry Francona said. "We gave him a day to throw on Monday, which we thought was good for him, and not throw yesterday. So when we knew he was healthy, we talked to (Marc Rzepczysnki), and Zep is as professional as you can be."
Rzepczynski, who made 18 appearances for Seattle early in the season, signed a minor-league contract June 18 and joined the big league club July 1. He appeared in five games and faced 10 batters in 2 2/3 innings of work, walking one and striking out one.
Francona said he was honest and up-front about the move with Rzepczynski, who pitched parts of three seasons in Cleveland from 203-15.
"He's a terrific kid and we love him," Francona said. "I hope he gets a Major League job. I hope he gets claimed, but if he doesn't, I hope he stays with us, and we told him that."