CLEVELAND — It was back to the minors for Yandy Diaz, who was optioned to Triple-A Columbus to clear a roster spot for Shane Bieber, Tuesday’s starting pitcher.
Diaz played well during his brief season debut for the Indians, going 7-for-14 with a triple and two RBIs in four games, but there’s no room for a corner infielder or designated hitter on the roster right now.
Frustration could be setting in for a highly touted prospect such as Diaz.
“That’s actually something we talked to him about because it’s real,” manager Terry Francona said. “We told him that he’s always one pitch or one play away from something happening. So even though there may be a day when you feel like, ‘Oh, man, I got Josie (Ramirez in front of me), I got this, I got that.’ There’s one phone call, then all of a sudden you’re playing in the major leagues.
“If you’re not ready, it doesn’t help, so you gotta stay ready. Hopefully he understands that. I think he does, but his play will tell us.”
Diaz, 26, batted .263 with eight doubles and 13 RBIs in 49 games for Cleveland last year. The Indians experimented with him in left field (three games), but it doesn’t sound as though Diaz is an option at the other corner outfield spot.
“Well, I don’t think he did very well in left field, so if you put him in right field it will be harder,” Francona said. “I think you’d be asking a lot of him to go play right field.
“Right now, he needs to play mostly third, some first. When we get through the trade deadline we’ll see where we’re at, or what’s happened or what hasn’t happened, and then maybe he plays a little more first, maybe he plays a little more third. We’ll just see where we’re at.”
Out of sync
Francona doesn’t believe Corey Kluber’s right knee was at the root of another poor outing for the right-hander Monday in a 7-0 loss to the Pirates.
“His knee is pretty good,” Francona said. “I just think that he’s gotten into some habits the last three or four starts. Now he’s gonna have to work his way out of it. And he will.”
Kluber received a lubricant injection to the knee following his final start of the first half July 15. He’s been experiencing mechanical issues the past month or so and it’s gotten worse as of late, with Kluber allowing 18 earned runs on 35 hits (six home runs) and nine walks over his last five starts (26 innings).
“Whether it’s because of my knee or my knee was because of that, I think that’s part of the stuff that got out of whack,” Kluber said Monday. “It’s pretty blatant when you watch video that things aren’t really the same in certain spots. So it’s just a matter of going through repetitions, dry runs. It’s easy to see where you want to be, but to actually get your body to do it, that’s where you just have to work at it.”
Back out there?
The Indians employed second baseman Jason Kipnis in center field for 11 games at the end of last season, including all five ALDS games.
Would they try the approach again this year?
“You never say never,” Francona said. “There’s gotta be a reason to do it. If there’s a compelling reason to do it ... I know (team president) Chris (Antonetti) sat down with Kip awhile back and kinda walked through what potentially could happen, things like that. I thought that was great. There’s got to be a compelling reason to do it.”
Kipnis, whose average was at .221 through Monday, has swung the bat better lately, hitting .286 with six homers and 17 RBIs since June 16. He entered Tuesday batting .357 (10-for-28) with three homers, six RBIs and six runs over his last 10 games at Progressive Field.
Cleveland claimed outfielder Johnny Field off waivers from Tampa Bay and assigned him to Columbus.
Field, a 26-year-old rookie, played in 62 games for the Rays, batting .213 with six homers and 14 RBIs. He entered Tuesday leading AL rookies with four outfield assists.
“Kinda the way it was described, (he’s) kind of a Guyer type. Right-handed hitter, can play all three (outfield positions),” Francona said. “Just trying to — hate to use the word inventory because they’re people, but when you have a chance to get a guy that can help, you see where it goes.”
Ramirez was named the Indians’ recipient of the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association’s Heart and Hustle award. The award honors players who demonstrate passion and best embody the values, spirit and tradition of the game.
“I would say that’s a slam dunk. If he doesn’t win it, nobody wins it,” Francona said of Ramirez, who led the majors with 30 homers and 60 extra-base hits entering Tuesday. “Because he embodies that. I’m not sure he has any business being as good as he is, yet he is — and he finds ways to keep getting better.
“And it’s not just the numbers, his numbers are fantastic. But he also does little things. He’s everything you’re looking for in a player.”
MLBPAA’s overall winner will be announced Nov. 8.
- Edwin Encarnacion returned the lineup after missing two games with a bone bruise in his left hand.
- Andrew Miller (right knee inflammation) was moved from the 10- to 60-day disabled list. He is eligible for activation today, but isn’t expected to leave the injured list until at least the weekend.
- Francisco Lindor entered Tuesday tied for the major league lead with 20 runs and eight doubles in July.
- Michael Brantley’s 66 hits at home were the most in the majors.