CLEVELAND -- The Indians had a difficult decision to make in order to add backup catcher Brett Hayes to their roster on Tuesday. Following an admirable return to the big leagues, Shaun Marcum received some tough news from Cleveland.
Prior to Tuesday's game against the White Sox, the Indians designated Marcum for assignment, giving the Tribe 10 days to either trade or release the pitcher, or assign him to Triple-A Columbus in the event he clears waivers and accepts an outright assignment.
"We were trying to figure out a way to keep him," Indians manager Terry Francona said on Tuesday. "We went over it and over it and over it, and I came back in yesterday and went over it again, and there was just no move where you're not going to lose a young kid. So, the hope is we don't lose Marcum. He'll go back to Triple-A and be available in 10 days, if needed."
The move with Marcum allowed Cleveland to purchase the contract of Hayes, who will serve as the backup to catcher Roberto Perez while starter Yan Gomes rehabs from a sprained right knee. Gomes, who injured his knee in the ninth inning of Saturday's loss to Detroit, is expected to be sidelined for six to eight weeks.
Until Sunday, the 33-year-old Marcum had not appeared in a Major League game since July 6, 2013, due to a comeback from thoracic outlet syndrome and subsequent setbacks with his right shoulder. In Cleveland's 8-5 loss to the Tigers on Sunday, the right-hander logged five innings in relief, limiting Detroit to just one run and ending with four strikeouts and three walks.
Francona noted that Indians general manager Chris Antonetti let Marcum know ahead of Sunday's game that the pitcher might only be in the Majors with Cleveland for one day. Even with that knowledge, Marcum chose to join the big league team rather than stay on his regular schedule at Triple-A.
"He knew coming in that it was going to be one," Francona said. "After he pitched so well, we were trying to figure out maybe a way to get around that. I think after talking through it, it's not a fun thing to do, but I think it's probably the right thing to do."
Marcum previously waived an opt-out clause in his Minor League contract in order to pitch at Columbus, which gave him time to rehab and come back from his injury issues. If Marcum (58-46 with a 3.87 ERA in 189 big league games over parts of nine seasons) clears waivers, it seems probable that he will accept another assignment at Triple-A.
Hayes, 31, signed a Minor League contract with Cleveland after splitting his 2014 season between Kansas City and Triple-A Omaha. During Spring Training with the Tribe, Hayes hit .333 (9-for-27) with three home runs and seven RBIs in 20 Cactus League games. The catcher has hit .209 in 175 Major League games over parts of six seasons with the Marlins and Royals, posting a 27 percent caught-stealing rate behind the plate.
"I'm here, just like all these other guys, to help this team win," Hayes said. "You hate to see [what happened to Gomes], especially with someone like Yan."