CLEVELAND -- The Indians do not want to be caught shorthanded down the stretch and, given the team's recent rotation troubles, that has been an ongoing issue throughout this season's second half.
On Wednesday, Cleveland recalled Jeanmar Gomez from Triple-A Columbus and placed the right-hander in the bullpen. Gomez has been working as a starter all season, but the Indians' current need is as many long-relief options as possible.
"The way we've used the bullpen the last couple of nights," Indians manager Manny Acta explained, "we're a little short back there. It's late in the season. We don't want to push anybody and you don't know how things are going to turn out."
The 24-year-old Gomez opened the year as the Indians' fourth starter, but was demoted to Triple-A after going 4-7 with a 5.18 ERA through June 23. At Columbus, he went 6-5 with a 4.41 ERA across 11 starts, during which he struck out 54 and walked 17 in 69 1/3 innings.
To clear room on the active roster for Gomez, the Indians designated utility man Shelley Duncan for assignment.
During Tuesday's 7-0 loss to the A's, Indians starter Zach McAllister was forced from the game after 4 1/3 innings due to an escalating pitch count. In Monday's 3-0 defeat against Oakland, Cleveland righty Roberto Hernandez exited after 2 1/3 innings after spraining his right ankle.
Hernandez threw 35 pitches off a mound on Wednesday with no problems and is scheduled to make his next start on Saturday against the Rangers.
Dating back to July 27, when Cleveland began this 5-25 stretch to forget, the team's rotation had logged 154 innings. That is the fewest innings in the American League over that span and ranks 29th overall in baseball during that period.
Under the circumstances, Gomez is better served in the bullpen for the time being. Cleveland was discussing a shift to a six-man rotation in September, but Acta said that plan has been shelved for now.
"We brought up Gomez to pitch out of the 'pen if necessary," Acta reiterated. "We're not anticipating ... going into that six-man rotation. It's still up in the air. We're not leaning that way, but if there's an opportunity later on to get him a start or two, we might do it."
Indians designate Duncan for assignment
CLEVELAND -- Shelley Duncan's playing time with the Indians gradually decreased throughout this season to the point where his time on the field was expected to be scarce once the calendar flipped to September.
With an eye on its future, Cleveland felt it was best to part ways with Duncan on Wednesday. The Indians designated the utility man for assignment and promoted right-hander Jeanmar Gomez from Triple-A Columbus.
There will be more players coming as part of September callups soon.
"He wanted to play," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "Unfortunately, going forward, the at-bats weren't going to be there and we probably don't feel he's going to be in the plans for next year. So, we might as well see some other guys."
Duncan, who has spent parts of the past three years with the Tribe, hit .203 with 11 home runs, 10 doubles and 31 RBIs in 81 games this season. He hit .333 over his first nine games of the season as Cleveland's regular left fielder, but experienced a statistical decline after being asked to split duties in left with veteran Johnny Damon.
Over his past 72 games, dating back to mid-April, Duncan hit .185 with nine home runs and 25 RBIs for the Indians. More recently, Duncan hit .138 (9-for-65) with two homers and seven RBIs in his last 21 games, dating back to July 19.
Damon was released earlier this month, but Ezequiel Carerra has garnered the bulk of the time in left field of late. As a result, Duncan was reduced to a part-time outfield and designated hitter role for the Tribe.
"Everybody wants to play every day," Acta said. "He wanted to play every day. Some of you guys campaigned for that, too, in Spring Training, remember? We never went into it. We just used him the way we felt was proper for our team. He's had some chances out there. He contributed at times."
Cleveland now has 10 days to either trade, release or, if Duncan clears waivers, reassign him to a Minor League affiliate.
"It's tough to let go a guy like him," Acta said. "He's such a good teammate and a guy who works so hard and gives you everything he's got."
Tribe claims southpaw Maine to add 'pen depth
CLEVELAND -- Left-handed relief has been a problem area for the Indians all season long. It makes sense for Cleveland to begin sorting through possible alternatives as it plans for the offseason ahead and next year.
On Wednesday, the Indians claimed lefty Scott Maine off waivers from the Cubs and optioned the pitcher to Triple-A Columbus. The Tribe feels Maine could possibly provide the organization with some depth as a left-handed specialist.
"He's an interesting guy, especially being left-handed," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "Some people feel that he could be a good matchup guy down the road."
This season, the Indians have used lefties Tony Sipp, Nick Hagadone, Scott Barnes, Rafael Perez and Chris Seddon out of the bullpen.
Sipp has posted a 4.57 ERA in a rocky season, Hagadone posted a 6.39 ERA before breaking his left hand, Barnes fashioned an 8.10 ERA and was shipped back to Triple-A, and Perez has been on the disabled list due to a left lat strain since April. Seddon has posted a 4.12 ERA as a spot starter and long reliever.
Acta would not say whether Maine was a candidate to be called up in September.
"We'll see," said the manager.
In 41 career games with the Cubs, dating back to 2010, the 27-year-old Maine has a 4.87 ERA with 42 strikeouts and 22 walks over 40 2/3 innings. Between three stints with Chicago this year, he has posted a 4.79 ERA with 26 strikeouts against 12 walks in 20 2/3 innings. Lefties hit .130 (3-for-23) off Maine in the big leagues this year.
Maine also went 4-2 with a 2.88 ERA in 28 games for Triple-A Iowa this season with 29 strikeouts and 13 walks in 34 1/3 innings.
"He's a lefty who has a pretty good arm, throws 91-94 mph," Acta said. "And he has a good slider. He's had a little bit of issues with his command. He's had success in the Minor Leagues."
Cleveland's pitchers combined for 16 strikeouts in Tuesday's 7-0 loss to the A's. It marked the most strikeouts by the Indians in a nine-inning game since April 10, 2000 (16 strikeouts at Oakland). Dating back to 1918, the Indians have had 16 or more strikeouts in a nine-inning loss only twice. The other occurance came on Oct. 2, 1938, when Bob Feller fanned 18 in a loss to Detroit.
On Wednesday, the Indians announced their 2012 participants for the Arizona Fall League. Outfielder Tyler Holt, catcher Alex Monsalve, infielder Ronny Rodriguez, left-handers Matt Packer and T.J. House, as well as right-handers Shawn Armstrong and Trey Haley will all suit up for the Scottsdale Scorpions in the AFL, which opens play on Oct. 9.
Indians third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall, who is working his way back from a fractured right forearm, might be ready to begin a Minor League rehab assignment after this weekend, according to Tribe manager Manny Acta. Chisenhall would likely be sent to Double-A Akron.
Quote to note
"I feel that it's not because of a lack of effort, but when things are not going well you can pinpoint a lot of things. ... Every one of them is taking it hard and is trying to do too much. As a matter of fact, we're all accountable."
-- Indians manager Manny Acta, on the team's second-half slide