CLEVELAND: As expected, the Indians activated right-handed starter Zach McAllister on Wednesday, albeit a day early.
Not expected was the club designating left-handed reliever Josh Outman for assignment in order to make room for McAllister’s return — especially a day before a roster move was necessary.
“If something fluky happens [Wednesday], we protect ourselves without making four moves,” Indians manager Terry Francona said before Wednesday’s game was postponed, noting that Outman would have been unavailable to pitch after he’d just logged 1⅓ innings at the end of the Tribe’s 9-3 blowout loss Tuesday to the Angels.
Outman, a free agent who signed with the Tribe for $1.25 million, had a 3.28 ERA in 31 appearances for the Tribe this year. But he’d struggled with his command and was bumped from his seventh-inning set-up role in favor of rookie left-hander Kyle Crockett.
While left-handed hitters batted only .180 against Outman, right-handers feasted at a .295 clip.
“When Crockett came to [the big leagues], it kind of changed Josh’s role,” Francona said. “We’re looking for a little bit in length and I’m not sure that role really fit [Outman]. We feel that Crockett can throw strikes and that he’s going to do nothing but probably get better.”
Crockett, who is in his second stint with the Indians after becoming the first player among all minor-leaguers to reach the majors from the 2013 draft class, owns a 1.29 ERA in six appearances.
The Indians have the option to trade Outman or release him over the next 10 days. If he is released and clears waivers, Outman could accept a minor-league assignment.
MAC IS BACK — In the meantime, the Indians hope McAllister’s return to the rotation provides the boost it did when he began the season as the team’s most effective starter.
“I feel good, 100 percent ready to go,” said McAllister, who’d been on the disabled list since May 22 with a lower back strain. “I think the [DL stint] was good for two reasons,” he said. “[One], to take a step back to evaluate what was going on. And, two, I was able to get healthy.”
He said it helped to stay with the team for the most part, coming back to Cleveland between three rehab starts to throw bullpens as well as joining his teammates for the Boston leg of their 10-game road trip.
“It was nice because that way, [Tribe pitching coach] Mickey [Callaway] and Cashy [bullpen coach Kevin Cash] could see me throw and determine how well I was progressing,” said McAllister, who is 3-4 with a 5.89 ERA in 10 starts this season.
RAIN, RAIN — Toward the end of batting practice Wednesday, the Progressive Field grounds crew partially rolled out a tarp in left field, leaving it handy as the sky grew overcast. But not long afterward, batting practice was cut short as rain began to fall and the grounds crew scattered into action to get the field covered in time.
That was two hours before the scheduled game at 7:05 p.m. About 35 minutes before the start, there was rain, lightning and thunder. Once the heavy storm moved in, it didn’t take long for the game between the Angels and Indians to be postponed.
While a makeup time for the game hadn’t been announced, there definitely won’t be a doubleheader today. The teams are scheduled to play at noon.
CHICKEN LITTLE — The sky might not have been falling, but the rain was Wednesday, cutting short reliever Scott Atchison’s turn sporting the Tribe’s popular Rally Chicken suit that gets passed around the locker room from time to time. Yet, there’s no doubt that Atchison received his fair share of grief as he shagged balls with his pitching teammates in the outfield while dressed in the silly-looking, bright-yellow suit.
Atchison’s crime? He lost a friendly bet with rookie left-hander Crockett regarding whose alma mater would win Tuesday’s game in the College World Series.
A half-hour after the Indians ran for the dry shelter of the clubhouse, Crockett got in his last jab by tweeting: “Glad @UVABaseball beat tcu last night so I didn’t have to wear this for batting practice today” — complete with a picture of Atchison dressed in the suit.
PITCHING MATCHUPS — Both teams are expected to stick with Wednesday’s starting pitchers today. The Indians will send right-hander Justin Masterson (4-5, 5.05 ERA) to the mound to face Angels left-hander C.J. Wilson (7-6, 3.50 ERA).
— Stephanie Storm