CLEVELAND — Yan Gomes’ premature return from the three-day paternity list turned out to be bad news for Jason Giambi.
Starting catcher Gomes rejoined the Indians one day ahead of schedule Monday, forcing the team to clear a spot on its 25-man active roster. It did so by placing designated hitter Giambi on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right calf.
“Players aren’t supposed to worry about the makeup of the roster — that’s our job — but ‘G’ sees the bigger picture and he understands,” Tribe manager Terry Francona said. “He continues to amaze me with his ability to see past himself and for the team.”
Giambi — batting .000 (0-for-10) in the regular season after hitting .000 (0-for-4) in spring training — pulled up lame Saturday after hitting into a double play in Cleveland’s 2-0 win over the White Sox.
The 43-year-old slugger, whose last base hit occurred Sept. 25, told reporters he was “fine” following the injury. When Gomes returned, however, Giambi’s ailment conveniently became worse.
“Even when you put him on the DL, you feel like a better person when you’re walking out of the room,” Francona said. “That’s just the kind of guy ‘G’ is.”
Gomes’ wife Jenna gave birth to their first child, daughter Brooklyn Mae, early Saturday morning. The Brazilian backstop told Francona he felt comfortable returning early because Jenna’s family — her father is longtime San Francisco pitcher Atlee Hammaker — is in town helping her.
The skipper wasted no time getting Gomes back into action, placing him seventh in the batting order for the four-game series opener against the Minnesota Twins.
“First of all, it’s pretty cool we’ve got Gomes back,” Francona said. “But the most important thing is his wife is doing well.”
By placing Giambi on the DL, catcher George Kottaras received a temporary reprieve from being sent back to Triple-A Columbus. The 30-year-old journeyman was recalled from the Clippers on Friday.
Kottaras became the first player in Indians history to homer in his first two plate appearances, turning the trick Sunday in a 4-3 loss to the White Sox. He was a .214 hitter during previous stops with Boston, Milwaukee, Oakland and Kansas City.
“I love George because he’s got a great attitude and is a first-class teammate,” said Francona, who managed the Red Sox during Kottaras’ 48-game stay. “I think he’s aware that we’d like to keep him, but he’s a smart kid, too.
“We’re probably going to have to walk through our roster daily for a while, so we’ll see what happens.”
Further complicating matters is the status of center fielder Michael Bourn, who re-injured his left hamstring Saturday and could be forced onto the DL for the second time this season. He also had surgery on the same hamstring last Oct. 15.
Bourn is batting .266 with two stolen bases in five attempts this season, and has only played in 15 of the Tribe’s 32 games.
“Bourny is not ready to return, but he is getting closer,” Francona said. “The hope is there is just some scar tissue in there that he’s going to have to deal with, but it has crept up now a couple of times, so we’re kind of looking for some direction from him on what to do.”
Indians right-hander Josh Tomlin will make his first MLB start in two years tonight against Minnesota.
The 29-year-old, who underwent reconstructive right elbow surgery Aug. 13, 2012, only appeared in one game last season for the Tribe in a relief role.
Tomlin pitched a total of 11 times in 2013, making stops at all five levels of the organization, beginning in the Arizona Rookie League. He is 2-1 with a 2.06 ERA in five starts for Columbus this spring, throwing 20 straight scoreless innings dating back to April 18.
“I had some rehab starts last year, but it really wasn’t the same thing,” Tomlin said inside the Tribe clubhouse. “Actually facing hitters and understanding that my elbow is healthy has been a completely different experience.”
Tomlin arrived in Cleveland on a roll, having been named the International League Pitcher of the Week earlier in the day. He won the award after tossing a three-hit, 10-strikeout shutout Thursday against the league-leading Durham Bulls.
- Left-hander T.J. House allowed three earned runs in seven innings Sunday as Triple-A Columbus lost 6-2 to Durham. Third baseman Giovanny Urshela hit a solo homer in his first start since behind promoted from Double-A Akron.
- First baseman Ronny Rodriguez doubled home catcher Tony Wolters in the top of the eighth, giving the RubberDucks a 5-4 win over Altoona. Shortstop Francisco Lindor had two hits for Akron.
- Right-hander D.J. Brown allowed two runs in 6⅔ innings, but both scored in the seventh and led to Single-A Carolina dropping a 2-1 decision to Wilmington.
- Shortstop Paul Hendrix hit a three-run homer, but Single-A Lake County fell 6-4 to Dayton. Hendrix is batting .310 with seven RBI over his last 10 games.
- The Indians’ four affiliates have a combined 53-60 record, led by the RubberDucks’ 18-11 mark.
- Indians center fielder Nyjer Morgan, who was recalled Sunday from Columbus, is using the entrance music of WWE world heavyweight champion Daniel Bryan during his at-bats.
- The Tribe’s average attendance of 14,328 and season total of 214,924 remain last in MLB entering Monday. The White Sox (16,874) and Athletics (252,940) rank next on each list, respectively.
- Former Cleveland outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, now with the Rangers, leads the American League in batting average (.349) and on-base percentage (.482).
Contact Brian Dulik at email@example.com.