The Indians finally have their bench aligned as they initially planned. Prior to Monday’s 4-3 win over the Royals, Cleveland activated veteran Jason Giambi from the disabled list after his comeback from a fractured rib in his right side.
In order to clear room on the active roster for Giambi, the Indians optioned right-handed reliever Blake Wood to Triple-A Columbus. With Wood out of the mix, manager Terry Francona has returned to a more traditional seven-man bullpen.
Giambi was slotted in the seventh spot in Monday’s starting lineup as Cleveland’s designated hitter and went 0-for-4.
"He means a lot to what we do," Francona said before the game. "Having him back is really good. You guys know this, but he’s one of the more special people that we’ve all been around. So, to have him back fighting with us is a good feeling."
The 43-year-old Giambi will rejoin the bench in the same role he held last season for the club. The slugger will serve as a part-time designated hitter, pinch-hitter and clubhouse presence. Giambi excelled as a late-inning hitting specialist for the Tribe last summer.
• Indians outfielder Michael Brantley entered Monday’s game batting .284 with a team-high three home runs and 16 RBIs. Brantley was hitting .318 with runners in scoring position and ranked sixth in the Majors with a rate of one RBI per 4.19 at-bats.
"He has one of the most comfortable looking setups I’ve ever seen," Francona said. "He just bounces that bat on his shoulder and he gets himself into such a good hitting position so often. He’s made a lot of hard outs, too, in this period. And I don’t think it’s a fluke. He gives himself a chance every at-bat."
• Entering Monday, Brantley and fellow Tribe outfielder David Murphy had combined for 12 of the 17 RBIs the club had collected over its past six games. The duo accounted for 18 of the Indians’ 29 RBIs over the past seven games. Murphy headed into Monday ranked third in the Majors with a rate of one RBI per 3.47 at-bats.
• The Indians entered Monday as one of only four Major League teams (joining the Reds, Rockies and Padres) without at least one extra-inning game this season. Across the big leagues, there had been 29 extra-inning games so far this season.
• Indians lefty Josh Outman warmed up to the song “Let It Go” from the animated Disney movie “Frozen” during the sixth inning of Sunday’s game against the Blue Jays. Outman said he is using the song right now because his 3-year-old daughter loves the movie.
Indians manager Terry Francona believes the easy thing to do would be to pull the plug on using Carlos Carrasco in the rotation. What Francona thinks makes more sense is weathering the current storm and seeing if Carrasco can realize his potential.
During Sunday’s 6-4 win over the Blue Jays, Carrasco labored when he got into the fourth and fifth innings — and Cleveland needed a comeback in order to claim the victory. Prior to the mid-game meltdown, the right-hander opened his outing with three perfect innings.
"That’s why we are trying to be as patient as possible, because that is there," Francona said. "The easiest thing to do is give up. If there’s a day when we think he can help us more in the bullpen, we would do that. It’s probably like that with any pitcher. But, right now, we’d like to see him try to extend those first three innings."
The 27-year-old Carrasco was sharp as a reliever last season, turning in a 1.32 ERA in his eight appearances (13 2/3 innings). As a starter, his troubles have been prolonged. Carrasco has gone 0-11 with an 8.28 ERA (73 earned runs in 79 2/3 innings) and a 1.98 WHIP in 16 starts since last winning a game as a starter for Cleveland on June 29, 2011.
Q. You were on the disabled list once in six years before signing with the Tribe. Then you come to Cleveland and you’ve been on it twice in two years. What’s going on?
A. “It’s crazy. The first one (last year) was my fault. I just shouldn’t have dove head first into first base. But I’m trying to win the game. I don’t know another way to do it.
4/21/14: The Indians defeat the Royals 4-3 with a pair of two-run home runs