CLEVELAND — The Indians’ revolving-door policy in the outfield continued Friday.
Cleveland activated Tyler Naquin prior to the series opener against Minnesota with Naquin starting in center field and batting eighth, following a month-long stint on the disabled list with a left hamstring strain.
Brandon Guyer (neck strain) also returned from a lengthy stay on the injured list Thursday, taking the roster spot of veteran Melky Cabrera, who was designated for assignment.
Cleveland is expected to option center fielder Greg Allen to Triple-A Columbus to clear room for Naquin on the roster, but won’t have to make the move for at least three days, thanks to first baseman Yonder Alonso being placed on the family medical emergency list.
Alonso can remain on the list for 3-7 days. When he returns, Allen is all but certain to rejoin the Clippers.
Naquin was off to a good start before the injury struck, batting .333 with three doubles, two home runs and 11 RBIs in 30 games for the Indians.
Entering Friday, Cleveland had employed eight players in its outfield — Michael Brantley, Lonnie Chisenhall, Bradley Zimmer, Rajai Davis, Guyer, Cabrera, Allen and Naquin.
- Andrew Miller threw a bullpen session Thursday but there is still no timetable for the left-hander’s return. He has been sidelined since May 26 with right knee inflammation and is in the midst of his second trip to the DL this season.
“When we get him back, we want to keep him back,” manager Terry Francona said. “He hasn’t had recurrences or nothing coming up. I don’t feel like we’re there where we can activate him and keep him where he needs to be and I think he feels the same way. So that’s why we’re continuing to just throw these bullpens.”
There is no indication whether Miller will require a minor league rehab assignment before he is activated.
- Right-hander Nick Goody (right elbow inflammation) was re-evaluated by Dr. James Andrews. He received a PRP injection for a bothersome bone spur and will be shut down for the next three weeks.
“The good news is, structurally, we know what it is, it’s nothing worse,” Francona said of Goody, who is on the 60-day DL and hasn’t pitched since May 3.
- Right-hander Danny Salazar (right rotator cuff tendinitis) has returned to Goodyear, Ariz., after being examined by doctors in Cleveland. According to Francona, he has also resumed throwing.
“Now, he’s done pretty good up to this point lots of times, it’s when we start getting to the maximum intensity,” Francona said of Salazar, who hasn’t pitched in a game all season. “But I’d still rather hear good stuff than not.”
- Francona said left-hander Ryan Merritt (left knee sprain) is ready to leave the injured list after missing the first two-plus months of the season.
The Indians have been getting a better effort from their bullpen as of late. Relievers had held opponents scoreless in seven of the last eight games through Thursday, with their 2.30 ERA in June standing as the seventh-lowest in the majors.
Right-hander Neil Ramirez and lefty Oliver Perez, who hadn’t allowed a run in his first six appearances through Thursday, have provided a lift.
“We were hoping that with opportunity, things would happen,” Francona said. “Oliver has certainly helped. Neil looks like he’s settling into a role (in the) eighth inning — a guy that can get some swing-and-miss, pound the zone, with good stuff.
“It allows us to back up and maybe pitch OT (Dan Otero) in different situations, or Mac (Zach McAllister). So, hopefully, not just those two, but Mac has been really much better. Same with OT. So, I think things are settling down a bit. Now all of a sudden you’re not seeing (left-hander Tyler) Olson facing the righties he shouldn’t face. Things like that.”
Prior to Friday’s game, Chisenhall took ground balls at third base — the position he played for the first seven-plus years of his professional career — after the Indians selected him with the 29th overall pick in 2008.
“He loves doing that. It’s funny because when he was (playing) there, he didn’t,” Francona said of Chisenhall, who revealed after he relocated to the outfield that he didn’t really enjoy playing third. “But I think it’s good for him, and if we get into situations like where somebody gets nicked up or something happens, it’s nice to know that somebody can go over there. Because with the way rosters are now, and everybody is trying to keep as many (pitchers) in the bullpen, myself included, it’s nice to know you have somebody who can go to second or go to third and actually the position.”
Prized prospect Francisco Mejia has struggled during his debut season on the Triple-A level, but he had a big game Thursday, going 3-for-5 with a homer, double and three RBIs in Columbus’ 8-2 win at Louisville.
Mejia, 22, was batting .223 with five homers and 28 RBIs in 51 games through Thursday.
Francona (2013-18) won his 490th game for the Indians on Thursday, moving him into a tie with Roger Peckinpaugh (1928-33, ’41) for sixth place all-time. Eric Wedge is fifth with 561 wins from 2003-09.
Francona’s .560 winning percentage is the third-highest in franchise history behind Al Lopez (.617 from 1951-56) and Ossie Vitt (.570 from 1938-40).