CLEVELAND — Jason Giambi is back in the fold.
The veteran designated hitter, who missed the first 18 games while recovering from a fractured rib, was officially activated from the disabled list Monday.
He was in the lineup for the series opener with Kansas City in place of a struggling Carlos Santana, who is batting .145 (9-for-62) with one home run and three RBIs in 18 games.
Giambi went 0-for-4 in a 4-3 win over Kansas City. Cleveland manager Terry Francona said his club missed the clubhouse leader.
“He means a lot to what we do,” Francona said. “Having him back is really good. He’s one of the more special people that we’ve all been around, so to have him back fighting with us is a good feeling.”
Francona felt a day off would benefit Santana, who has not been himself at the plate, striking out 16 times in 18 games.
“I thought it would be good for him, because he’s starting to chase some balls out of the zone and sometimes getting a little anxious,” Francona said.
To make room for Giambi, the Indians optioned right-hander Blake Wood to Triple-A Columbus, leaving Cleveland with seven relievers and four bench players.
Francona said Carlos Carrasco was not pitching for his spot in the rotation Sunday and that the right-hander would remain in the rotation, despite an 0-2 record and 7.31 ERA in three starts.
Carrasco was perfect through the first three innings Sunday before running into trouble and failing to make it past the sixth.
“That’s why we are trying to be as patient as possible because that is there,” Francona said of Carrasco’s effective three innings. “The easiest thing to do is give up. If there’s a day when we think he can help us more in the bullpen, we would do that. But right now, we’d like to see him try to extend those first three innings.
“Every time something doesn’t go perfect, you just can’t run away from it. There’s also times when you do make changes, I agree. But not now.”
Carrasco pitched well out of the bullpen last year and there was the possibility he would open the year in a relief role.
With Santana out and Francona not wanting to juggle the lineup for one game, third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall hit cleanup. Chisenhall entered the night batting .448 (13-for-29), but without a homer or RBI in nine games.
“He’s been swinging the bat about as good as we’ve ever seen him,” Francona said. “He looks more relaxed, but saying that, I would too if I was hitting .450. If he doesn’t feel comfortable, he’s never going to.”
Chisenhall went 2-for-4 Monday.
Francona was asked if pitching coach Mickey Callaway had located anything that has contributed to the struggles of right-hander Danny Salazar, who is 0-2 with a 7.71 ERA in his first three starts.
“It kind of surprised us but Danny kind of admitted that he was young,” Francona said, “not in those words, but that he was pressing a little bit on his expectations of himself. The way he carries himself, I think that surprised us. When you think about it, it probably shouldn’t. He’s a younger kid and he’s got, what, 15 starts?”
Salazar, 24, told reporters after his last start that he would review video of himself from last year in an effort to locate the problem.
Francona is a big proponent of defensive shifting. The Indians do it often, and employed an alignment Sunday that paid off for the final out with the bases loaded.
“The shifting done in the major leagues now, it takes hits away,” Francona said. “Most teams are doing it. Some are doing it a lot, some are maybe slower to adapt to it. But I think you’re seeing it takes away more hits than it gives up.
“Anytime you do something on the field as a manager, you don’t want to guess. That’s why I laugh when somebody says they’re gut (feelings). To me, the gut (feeling) is making a decision knowing the information. That’s a heck of a lot better way to make a decision in my opinion.”
Double-A Akron’s pitching staff entered Monday leading the Eastern League with a 2.69 ERA over the first 16 games.
Advanced Class A Carolina outfielder Anthony Gallas entered Monday with hits in eight of his last 10 games. Gallas, a Strongsville High and Kent State graduate, was batting .300 with seven doubles, three homers and eight RBIs in 15 games.
- Michael Brantley (nine) and David Murphy (nine) had accounted for 18 of the Indians’ 28 RBIs over the last seven games through Sunday.
- Cleveland entered Monday as one of four teams — Reds, Rockies and Padres — yet to play extra innings.