MINNEAPOLIS -- The Indians have lacked a versatile utility man for their bench for the past two weeks. Prior to this weekend's series against the Twins, Cleveland addressed that need on its roster.
On Thursday, when the Tribe had an optional workout at Target Field, the Indians recalled infielder Erik Gonzalez from Triple-A Columbus and optioned lefty TJ House to the same affiliate. Gonzalez received rave reviews from manager Terry Francona during Spring Training and spent time playing multiple positions this season in the Minors.
Cleveland has had a need for a utility man since a roster crunch led to the club designating the versatile Michael Martinez for assignment on July 2. The Indians then dealt Martinez to the Red Sox in exchange for cash considerations on Friday. Jose Ramirez can play a variety of positions for the Indians, but he has been a part of the everyday lineup this year.
Gonzalez, who will be making his Major League debut, can fill a similar bench role as Martinez. Having Martinez on the roster gave Francona some flexibility for late-inning moves due to his ability to play an assortment of positions.
At Triple-A this season, Gonzalez played 70 games at shortstop (his primary position), but he also logged innings at second base, third base, center field and right field. In 81 games this year, the 24-year-old Gonzalez hit .296/.328/.420 with six homers, 22 doubles, one triple, 39 RBIs, 46 runs, nine steals, 15 walks and 63 strikeouts for the Clippers.
Ranked as the Tribe's 11th-best prospect by MLBPipeline.com, Gonzalez was named to the Triple-A All-Star team for his showing in this season's first half.
By optioning House to Triple-A, Cleveland now has seven relievers (no left-handers) in its bullpen. The Indians have cycled through an assortment of lefties this season, calling up House on July 4 as the latest in a growing list of southpaws to pitch out of the 'pen. In four games, House struck out two, walked none, allowed six hits and posted a 3.38 ERA for the Indians.
Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.