CHICAGO -- Zach McAllister wanted to make it difficult for the Indians to send him back to the Minor Leagues. The right-hander did an admirable job during his short stay in the rotation, but he is returning to Triple-A Columbus for now.
McAllister leaves with the feeling that he belongs in the big leagues.
"Yeah, I feel like that," McAllister said on Wednesday. "I'm just trying to make the most of my opportunity. You never know when you'll be sent down, so I'm trying to do all I can to make the decision hard for them."
Prior to Friday's road game against the White Sox, the Indians optioned McAllister to Triple-A and recalled infielder Juan Diaz from Double-A Akron. The move with Diaz is a temporary transaction, providing Cleveland with an extra infielder off the bench until the team needs a starter for Monday's game against the Royals.
The expectation is that right-hander Josh Tomlin will be activated from the 15-day disabled list to make that start against Kansas City. Tomlin has been sidelined with a right wrist injury since May 12, when McAllister was called up from the Minors. Tomlin completed a 50-pitch simulated game on Thursday with no issues.
Tomlin, who is 1-2 with a 4.67 ERA in six games this season, opened the year as the Tribe's fourth starter. The right-hander went 12-7 with a 4.25 ERA in 26 starts for the Indians last season, which was his first full tour in the Majors."I'm looking forward to it," Tomlin said of his expected activation.
In four starts with the Indians this season -- three during Tomlin's stay on the 15-day DL and a previous outing during a May 7 doubleheader -- McAllister went 1-1 with a 3.96 ERA. The right-hander compiled 22 strikeouts against six walks in 25 innings. In his most recent outing on Wednesday, McAllister held the Tigers to two runs over 6 1/3 innings.
"I feel more comfortable with every outing I make," McAllister said.
Indians manager Manny Acta said he was impressed with McAllister's performance while Tomlin was sidelined. Acta was especially thrilled with the young righty's outing on May 12, when he held the Red Sox to four runs on eight hits with eight strikeouts and no walks over seven innings.
"He was pretty impressive," Acta said. "Every one of his outings was good. He gave us an opportunity to win. The most impressive one was probably the one in Fenway Park, where he didn't have his best stuff and still he battled through it and came out of there giving us an opportunity to win and not forcing us to burn our bullpen.
"Ever since his first two outings up here [in 2011], every single one of his outings has been very satisfactory. We feel that at some point he's going to he a good starter for us."
At Triple-A Columbus this season, the 24-year-old McAllister has gone 3-1 with a 2.83 ERA in six starts. Cleveland acquired the right-hander from the Yankees during the 2010 season in a trade that sent outfielder Austin Kearns to New York.
Adding the 23-year-old Diaz to the bench gives the Indians an extra reserve infielder while third basmen Jack Hannahan continues to deal with a persistent back injury. Hannahan has missed the past 10 games due to the back issue, leaving the Indians short-handed at third base and shortstop on the depth chart.
Hannahan was out of the lineup for Friday's game against the White Sox, but might be ready to return to the field on Saturday, according to Acta. Cleveland is also currently without designated hitter Travis Hafner, who will likely sit out the weekend series in Chicago to rest and rehab a sore right knee.
With Hannahan sidelined, backup catcher Lou Marson is the second option for third base behind Jose Lopez, and there is no clear backup option for shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera. Diaz has played shortstop for all 34 games he has logged at Double-A, so he offers some insurance until the Tribe activates Tomlin.
Acta said the Indians promoted Diaz -- rather than an infielder from Triple-A -- due to the temporary nature of the situation.
"If everything goes as expected, he's just going to be here until it's time to activate Tomlin," Acta explained. "That's the reason for it. We are anticipating it's a short-term thing. Why bring a guy that needs to play every day over there [in Triple-A]? That's all there is to it."
This season with Akron, Diaz has hit .232 (32-for-138) with three home runs, seven doubles and 18 RBIs. The switch-hitting shortstop has hit .330 (30-for-91) against right-handed pitching. Diaz made his Major League debut in Friday's loss, replacing Asdrubal Cabrera at shortstop in the seventh inning when Cabrera felt tightness in his left hamstring. He took a called third strike in his first big league at-bat during the eighth inning.
"It was really, really, really surprising," Diaz said of his callup. "I feel happy to be in the big leagues. I'm really excited."