Cleveland's roster construction took a hit last Saturday, when the Indians designated utility man Michael Martinez for assignment. That led to Friday's announcement that the Indians traded Martinez to the Red Sox in exchange for cash considerations. Cleveland did not want to part with the versatile Martinez, but a roster crunch -- and a need for pitching -- forced the team's hand last weekend.
The switch-hitting Martinez hit .283 with a .690 OPS in 32 games for the Indians while offering insurance for second base, shortstop, third base and all three outfield spots.
"It was hard," Francona said. "And everybody knew it. We got put in a bind. He's a really good guy to have around. He actually was doing pretty well numbers-wise, but he's better than his numbers. His ability to move around the diamond and pinch-run and play defense and be a really good teammate -- I don't think anybody was happy about [parting with him]."
The Indians do have a versatile player in Jose Ramirez, but he is a part of the everyday lineup. Cleveland also has a surplus of outfielders on the roster between Ramirez, Rajai Davis, Tyler Naquin, Lonnie Chisenhall and Abraham Almonte. It would not be surprising if the Tribe targeted utility-type players as the non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches.
"I don't know how you quantify it, but it's important," Francona said of having that type of player on the bench. "You're able to do certain things because you know you have him, who can go anywhere."
• Indians left fielder Michael Brantley (on the 60-day disabled list with a right shoulder issue) took batting practice on the field Friday for the second day in a row and for the third time in four days. Francona indicated that Brantley might take BP again on Saturday, but the manager remained mum about the potential timing of a Minor League rehab assignment.
"From talking to him, talking to the trainers," Francona said, "it went really well. He's doing good."
• The Indians were on the road for 20 out of their 26 games before this homestand, including a 19-inning marathon on July 1 in Toronto. Given the draining schedule and the toll the Toronto series took on the pitching staff, Francona said the All-Star break is arriving at a great time for his team.
"We've played a lot of baseball," Francona said. "That 19-inning game really took it out of us. I think the guys see it coming, and we've just tried to remind them a couple times, 'You don't coast into the break. You go 100 miles per hour, and then it comes to a crashing halt.' And then we want them to get away, because it's good for them."
• With right-handers Corey Kluber and Danny Salazar heading to San Diego for the All-Star Game presented by MasterCard, the Indians are still sorting through how their rotation will look coming out of the break. Francona said the plan is to know by Sunday how the starting staff will be aligned, so the pitchers all know before they leave town.