CLEVELAND -- With their bullpen depleted thanks to a series of brief outings from the rotation, the Indians called to Triple-A Columbus for reinforcement Saturday, promoting right-hander T.J. House.
House, 1-2 with a 2.40 ERA in seven starts for the Clippers, is expected to pitch in relief. His promotion does not affect the projected arrival Tuesday of Columbus right-hander Trevor Bauer, who is expected to take the rotation spot of Danny Salazar. Salazar was sent down Friday.
“He’s a potential starter this year (in the big leagues) as things unfold because of the way he’s pitching,” manager Terry Francona said of House, a 16th-round draft pick out of high school in 2008. “So, it will allow to get him here, see the atmosphere, kind of get the newness out of the way. That can only help.”
Right-hander C.C. Lee was optioned back to Columbus to clear a spot for House on the 25-man roster. Promoted April 9 to replace Vinnie Pestano in the bullpen, Lee posted a 4.76 ERA in 13 appearances. Francona said he was not demoted for performance issues, but because the Indians needed a fresh arm in the pen after Lee pitched Friday.
“I think we all think C.C. is going to be a guy that ends up pitching fairly late in the game for us, just because of his stuff,” Francona said. “I think at every level C.C.’s been, it’s taken him a little while to kind of feel like he belongs and this is no different. He told us, ‘I’m making the same pitches here that I did in Triple-A, but they’re getting hit here.’”
Francona said second baseman Jason Kipnis (strained right oblique) would likely begin a minor league rehab assignment late next week, when the Indians travel to Baltimore for a three-game series.
Kipnis has been sidelined since April 30, batting .234 with three home runs and 12 RBIs in 27 games. He has been participating in baseball activities and working out prior to games at Progressive Field, but the Indians are proceeding with caution.
“If you re-injure this, you’re looking at significant time,” Francona said. “That’s why they didn’t let him start activities until the pain was completely gone, because we don’t need this to re-occur. Once it heals, I don’t believe you’re at more risk for it to happen again.”
Jason Giambi (right calf strain) is eligible to leave the disabled list Monday, but Francona said the veteran DH would likely be activated Tuesday.
Giambi has played in just four games this season, spending two stints on the DL.
Right-hander J.C. Ramirez was activated from the 7-day DL and transferred to Double-A Akron. Ramirez, who had yet to make an appearance this season through Friday, appeared in 18 games out of Philadelphia’s bullpen last year, posting a 7.50 ERA.
The native of Nicaragua signed a minor league free-agent contract with Cleveland this offseason.
- Indians pitchers entered Saturday leading the majors with 372 strikeouts. Cleveland had recorded 18 double-digit strikeout games through Friday, which was also tops in the big leagues.
- The Indians’ series opener with Detroit on Monday has been picked up by ESPN and will be shown nationally.