CLEVELAND -- Scott Atchison has been a key cog within manager Terry Francona's bullpen not only in Cleveland, but during their days with the Red Sox. With the Tribe, the right-hander has provided a veteran presence and, more often than not, offered a dependable arm for the relief corps.
On Tuesday, the Indians simply reached a breaking point with Atchison's recent struggles.
Cleveland designated Atchison for assignment prior to Tuesday's game against the Tigers, and recalled righty Austin Adams from Triple-A Columbus to fill the opening in the bullpen. The Indians have 10 days to either trade or release Atchison, or send him to a Minor League affiliate if he clears waivers and accepts an outright assignment.
"He means so much to everybody," Francona said of Atchison. "And I probably go back farther with him than anybody, but everybody in our organization respects and cares about Atch. So, that was a hard one."
This season, the 39-year-old Atchison posted a 6.86 ERA in 23 appearances for Cleveland, striking out 12 and walking four in 19 2/3 innings. That included a season-opening stretch of seven shutout appearances, consisting of six innings and a .156 opponents' OPS. Following that impressive start, though, Atchison labored up until Tuesday's decision.
Since that scoreless seven-game run in early April, Atchison turned in a 9.88 ERA with a 1.114 opponents' OPS in 13 2/3 innings. The Indians shelved him on the 15-day disabled list with a left ankle sprain from May 28-June 13 -- citing the injury as a partial explanation for his issues on the mound -- but the problems persisted after he was activated.
In Monday's 8-5 loss to Detroit, Atchison gave up one run on two hits in the ninth inning. With that showing, the right-hander's ERA was 11.25 in the four appearances since coming off the DL. Atchison gave up two homers in that recent stretch, giving him six long balls allowed in his past 13 2/3 innings.
"I thought his fastball had kind of crept up a little bit more towards where it usually was," Francona said. "It was just all the offspeed -- the cutter, breaking ball -- he couldn't get it down where he wanted to. And, every time he left it up, it seemed like they hit it. There wasn't a lot of room for error."
Atchison's 2015 showing has been a drastic dropoff from a year ago, when he posted a 2.75 ERA and logged career highs in innings (72) and games (70) out of Cleveland's bullpen. Atchison, who pitched under Francona during 2010-11 in Boston, was rewarded last season with a contract extension that included a $900,000 salary for 2015 and a $1 million team option for '16.
The 28-year-old Adams, who was in the Indians' Opening Day bullpen, is entering his fifth stint with the Tribe this year. In seven Major League games, the hard-throwing right-hander has a 2.38 ERA with seven strikeouts and four walks in 11 1/3 innings. Adams has a 4.91 ERA through 13 career games with the Tribe in parts of the 2014 and '15 campaigns.
"I think we felt like Austin can help us win games more," Francona said. "It wasn't necessarily fair to Austin. I actually told him that last time when we sent him down. We told Atch that we were going to activate him, but we said [to Adams], 'You go do your stuff,' because I thought Austin deserved to stay then."
Gomes sits again
Catcher Yan Gomes was out of the starting lineup on Tuesday, marking the fourth time in the past five games that he sat due to neck stiffness. Francona said Gomes was "doing much better." The Indians planned on monitoring how the catcher did during pregame drills on Tuesday before considering whether he might play in the series finale against the Tigers on Wednesday afternoon.