CLEVELAND — Franklin Gutierrez is back with the Indians. This time, he might even get a chance to play.
Gutierrez, a 24-year-old outfielder who logged just three at-bats in his first stint with the Indians from May 6-19, was promoted from Triple-A Buffalo on Thursday, replacing relief pitcher Mike Koplove on Cleveland’s 25-man roster. According to Indians manager Eric Wedge, Gutierrez will start tonight against Detroit.
The Indians chose Gutierrez, who is hitting .341 with four home runs and 16 RBIs in 30 games for Buffalo, over another promising young outfielder in Ben Francisco. Francisco was at .349 with four homers and 27 RBIs in 43 games through Wednesday.
“You can’t go wrong either way,” Wedge said. “Franklin’s been very consistent down there.”
Gutierrez, one of the organization’s top prospects, played in 43 games for the Indians last year, batting .272 with a homer and eight RBIs. He joined Cleveland in a trade with the Dodgers for Milton Bradley prior to the 2004 season.
Koplove, a side-armed, right-hander, appeared in three games for the Indians, allowing two runs on four hits in four innings. Cleveland decided to keep left-hander Rafael Perez rather than Koplove, with Perez, a starter at Buffalo, able to fill the long relief vacancy in the bullpen.
Wedge revealed little concerning negotiations with reliever Troy Percival, who is attempting a comeback and recently threw for a number of scouts from big league teams, including the Indians.
“Everybody’s looking hard to get better. We’re no exception,” Wedge said.
One of the reasons the Indians are interested in Percival is the sub par performance of veteran reliever Roberto Hernandez, who entered Thursday sporting a 6.20 ERA through 21 games, while allowing 17 runs, 25 hits and 12 walks in 201/3 innings.
Percival, 37, hasn’t pitched since 2005, battling elbow problems last year.
Body by Jake
Disabled starting pitcher Jake Westbrook (strained abdominal) is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment with Buffalo today, throwing 50 pitches or three innings against Toledo.
Westbrook isn’t expected to stay on rehab assignment long, possibly returning to Cleveland’s rotation as early as next week, with the Indians most likely optioning Jeremy Sowers to Buffalo to make room on the roster.
The Indians have been able to avoid a lengthy losing skid thus far with three straight losses standing as their season-high mark in the category. Their largest winning streak is six games.
“Our starting pitching’s been pretty consistent, but I think if you look at all areas of our ballclub, we’ve been solid,” Wedge said.
Wedge didn’t appear to be a fan of Alex Rodriguez’s much publicized pop-up ploy Wednesday night in the Yankees’ victory over Toronto.
“That’s unusual,” Wedge said. “I’m not going to comment any further.”
Wedge went on to say that he would not support his players copying Rodriguez’s tactic.
The Indians entered Thursday having raised their team batting average from .260 to .273 over their last 16 games, and their average with runners in scoring position from .254 to .268.
l There was a moment of silence before Thursday night’s game in remembrance of Cleveland police officer Jason West, a native of Avon, who was killed in the line of duty.
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7135 or email@example.com