07/24/12 6:38 PM ET
Tribe acquires Lillibridge from Red Sox
Versatile utility player a welcome addition to Cleveland's bench
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
Cleveland sent Minor League right-hander Jose De La Torre to Boston to land Lillibridge, who has split his time between the White Sox and Red Sox this season. Lillibridge is scheduled to join the Indians on Wednesday, when the Tribe will make a subsequent move to officially add the utility man to the roster.
Indians manager Manny Acta said one attribute in particular made Lillibridge attractive.
"Versatility, man," Acta said. "He's a guy we've seen in our division the last couple of years. He can play the outfield. He can play the infield. He can run. It's a guy that we'll welcome here."
To add Lillibridge to the 40-man roster, Cleveland transferred third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day disabled list. Chisenhall will likely be out until September, or possibly for the remainder of the season, due to a fractured right forearm.
Lillibridge offers the Indians a right-handed bench player capable of manning seven positions. He can play all three outfield spots and has experience at first, second and third base, along with shortstop. Offensively, Lillibridge has labored in his five big league seasons, hitting .212 with a .279 on-base percentage.
On June 24, the Red Sox landed Lillbridge, along with pitcher Zach Stewart, in the trade that sent Kevin Youkilis to the White Sox. On the season, Lillibridge -- contractually controllable through the 2015 season -- has hit .165 (13-for-79) over 59 games between his stints with Chicago and Boston.
Lillibridge's best offensive season came in 2011, when he hit .258 with 13 home runs, five doubles and 29 RBIs in 97 games with the White Sox.
Acta downplayed Lillibridge's recent struggles at the plate.
"He has hit in the past," Acta said. "But we're not bringing him over here to put him in the middle of our lineup. He's just going to be a backup guy for us. You don't have backup guys hitting .300 on the bench."
Acta noted that Lillibridge's primary role will be to serve as a late-inning defensive replacement for Cleveland's left fielders. For the bulk of this season, that job has been held by outfielder Aaron Cunningham, who has provided rest for Johnny Damon and Shelley Duncan in left, as well as Michael Brantley in center.
Asked if Cunningham (hitting .175 through 71 games) was the odd man out, Acta sidestepped the question.
"We haven't made the decision yet," Acta said. "We're working through that. [On Wednesday] we'll have a move for you. Can you bring up a couple of more names? He's not the only one. We have 25 guys in there."
Cunningham is out of Minor League options, so he would need to be designated for assignment to clear room for Lillibridge. The same would go for Duncan, who has hit .225 with nine home runs and 24 RBIs through 62 games for the Tribe.
Earlier this season, Jason Donald -- currently with Triple-A Columbus --- filled a similar super utility role for the Indians as the one expected to be handed to Lillibridge. Acta said Cleveland feels Donald needs to be playing regularly for Columbus.
"We just feel that, right now, it's better for him to continue his development down there," Acta said of Donald. "Most of the action from [Lillibridge] will be coming in late playing defense in the outfield for the guys in left field. This guy has done that in the big leagues for the last few years."
The 26-year-old De La Torre appeared in 34 games between tours with Triple-A Columbus and Double-A Akron this season after being signed as a Minor League free agent over the offseason. In 55 2/3 Minor League innings, the righty went 8-1 with a 2.91 ERA, striking out 58 and walking 21.