Francona trying to find at-bats for Diaz

Francona trying to find at-bats for Diaz

CLEVELAND -- The idea was not for Yandy Diaz to sit on the bench. When Cleveland called him back up from Triple-A Columbus on Monday, the team wanted to find a way to work Diaz into the lineup on a regular basis. Indians manager Terry Francona is still sorting through that puzzle.

With left fielder Michael Brantley back from a minor ankle injury and outfielder Abraham Almonte recovered from a small shoulder issue, Francona has a crowded outfield situation on his hands. The Cleveland manager is still working through how to open up more at-bats for Diaz.

"It's something we've kind of talked about a lot. The early answer is I'm not sure," Francona said prior to Saturday's game against the Twins. "One thing we don't want to do is just have him sitting here. So, it's something we've kind of been talking about and we'll probably talk about it a little bit more.

"Things do have a way of changing, where one day you look up and you're like, 'Man, how's this guy going to get at-bats?' And then all of a sudden, he's playing every day. But, it's a good point and it's something we continue to talk about."

Diaz began this season with the Indians as their regular third baseman, filling in at the hot corner while Jose Ramirez handled second with Jason Kipnis on the disabled list in early April. When Kipnis returned, Ramirez moved back to third and Diaz was optioned to Triple-A on April 21. In 12 games back in the Minors, Diaz hit .395 with a 1.067 OPS for Columbus.

The Indians recalled Diaz on Monday, while Brantley was sidelined with a sprained right ankle. That allowed Diaz to play left field for three games, but Brantley has since returned, leaving little room for the rookie. Right field could be an option, but Francona also has Almonte and Brandon Guyer for that spot.

When Diaz was called back up, Francona floated the concept of playing Carlos Santana in right field on occasion. That approach would put Edwin Encarnacion at first base and open up at-bats in the designated hitter role. On Saturday, Francona said that was among things still under discussion.

"It's something we've talked about," Francona said. "But, you're trying to balance everything, putting the best team you think out there that can win. And, when you're moving guys around to accommodate, to try to get a bat in there, you want to make sure you've got your best hitters, too.

"He's not in the middle of [a hot streak]. His swings haven't been probably what they will be, so when you start moving guys, you want to make sure you're doing it for the right reasons."

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.