Tribe back to typical hitter-pitcher roster alignment
By Jordan Bastian and William Kosileski
CLEVELAND -- With the Indians' pitching staff over the rough patch from earlier this week, Adam Plutko's latest stint as an insurance arm for the bullpen came to a close.
Prior to Saturday's game against the Yankees, Cleveland reverted back to a more usual roster alignment, recalling outfielder Abraham Almonte from Triple-A Columbus and optioning Plutko to the same affiliate. Plutko was promoted on Wednesday after a taxing stretch for the bullpen and following Andrew Miller's trip to the disabled list.
"It gives us also a pinch-hitting option, which is a switch-hitter. That kind of helps, too," Indians manager Terry Francona said of calling Almonte back up. "For a while there, with Plutko here, we wanted to protect our bullpen, because when we got through Boston, we were getting a little beat up there."
Almonte returns to the Indians' roster just 10 days after he was optioned to Columbus. He was initially sent down for reliever Shawn Armstrong, one night after the team's bullpen was tasked with covering 5 2/3 innings in an 11-7 extra-inning victory over the Angels on July 25. Starter Mike Clevinger is temporarily in the bullpen, so Plutko can now resume his role as a starter for Triple-A Columbus.
With Almonte -- who is able to play all three positions in the outfield -- back with the Indians, the team now has five outfielders. The other four are Michael Brantley in left, Bradley Zimmer in center, Brandon Guyer available for the corners, and Austin Jackson serving as an option for each spot.
In 44 games with Cleveland this season, Almonte has hit .244 with three homers, five doubles, three triples and 10 RBIs. The switch-hitting outfielder had been swinging the bat well before he was optioned, hitting .308 in his previous 39 at-bats (12 games), with a pair of doubles, triples and homers to go along with three walks and four RBIs.
Kipnis on target for Sunday
Francona noted that second baseman Jason Kipnis (10-day DL, right hamstring) remains on pace to be activated for Sunday's game against the Yankees. Kipnis went 1-for-5 for Columbus on Friday in his fourth Minor League rehab game, and he was cleared to rejoin the big league club.
"He thought he was ready to go [earlier this week]," Francona said. "He's worked so hard, so we wanted to kind of -- I don't know if meeting in the middle, if that's the right way to say it -- but show him that we appreciate it. But, I just thought one more game would do him some good. And he ended having to sprint I think four times, which is good. So, he'll play second base [on Sunday]."