04/16/2013 7:09 PM ET
With Kipnis sore, Tribe calls on Phelps for depth
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
CLEVELAND -- The Indians have added some insurance for their infield while second baseman Jason Kipnis continues to rest a sore left elbow.
Prior to Tuesday's game against the Red Sox, Cleveland promoted Cord Phelps from Triple-A Columbus, giving the club a backup option for second and third base. Kipnis, who was scheduled to take part in batting practice on Tuesday, has been sidelined with his elbow injury since Saturday.
"I feel better. It's getting there," Kipnis said on Tuesday. "Hopefully everything goes well today and I show up fine tomorrow and go from there."
Utility man Mike Aviles started in place of Kipnis at second for Tuesday's game, and Ryan Raburn -- another reserve for second -- was in right field for the Tribe. Regular right fielder Drew Stubbs shifted to center field as a replacement for Michael Bourn, who is expected to be placed on the 15-day disabled list within the next few days with a right index finger injury.
To clear room on the roster for Phelps, Cleveland optioned catcher Omir Santos to Columbus. The Indians also sent right-hander Robert Whitenack -- designated for assignment on April 9 -- outright to Double-A Akron on Tuesday.
Phelps opened this season on the Minor League disabled list due to neck stiffness, but he played in two games since returning to the field. During Spring Training, Phelps impressed the Indians by hitting .375 (18-for-48) with three home runs, four doubles and seven RBIs in 23 Cactus League games.
"He couldn't have played any better," manager Terry Francona said of Phelps' spring showing. "So when you call a guy up, you're kind of excited because he deserves it."
Phelps was happy that his spring performance paid off.
"I went into Spring Training looking to just have a positive attitude," Phelps said, "and have a good time every day and work hard. I wanted to show that and have it shine through in my play. I had a good spring. I was happy with how it went. I did everything I could do."
Bourn heading to DL; Kazmir slated to start Saturday
CLEVELAND -- Michael Bourn sat in front of his locker in the Indians' clubhouse on Tuesday afternoon, a splint on his injured right index finger, unsure of how many games he would miss. The center fielder is going to be sidelined longer than initially expected.
Tribe manager Terry Francona said Tuesday that Bourn will be placed on the 15-day disabled list within the next few days. Francona explained that left-hander starter Scott Kazmir was also expected to be activated from the DL in time for a road start against the Astros on Saturday.
"To be completely honest, he'll end up going on the disabled list," Francona said of Bourn. "He's not there yet. The reason being Kazmir pitched [Monday for Triple-A Columbus]. We fully expect him to pitch Saturday for us. Saying that, if we don't DL Bourn yet, if he's just a little sore, it gives us a chance to do something different."
Bourn, who signed a four-year, $48 million contract with the Indians over the offseason, suffered a laceration on his right hand while sliding into first base in the eighth inning of Sunday's 3-1 loss to the White Sox. On the play, Chicago pitcher Matt Thornton stepped on Bourn's hand while covering first base. Bourn exited the game and received five stitches.
Through 10 games with Cleveland, Bourn has hit .333 (15-for-45) with two home runs, four doubles, one triple, two RBIs and seven runs scored.
Bourn felt his only chance of being safe in that situation was to slide headfirst.
"I just tried to be safe, man," Bourn said. "We were down by one and I tried to get on the base. I just tried to get there, but in the process, I got hurt. It's something I have to deal with. That's all I can do."
Kazmir, who won the fifth-starter's job with a solid showing in Spring Training, suffered a right rib cage strain while playing catch on April 1 in Toronto. On Monday, the lefty made his first Minor League rehab appearance, holding Triple-A Louisville to one unearned run on five hits with five strikeouts and no walks in five innings of work.
"[The reports were] very good," Francona said. "Because he's building up, he was limited to [around 60] pitches. That's something to think about, but he threw the ball very well. [Pitching coach Mickey Callaway] went down there to watch. All the reports were very positive. I think Scotty felt really good about himself."
Indians pay tribute to trailblazing Robinson
CLEVELAND -- Hanging inside each locker at Progressive Field on Tuesday was a jersey bearing a number that carries more meaning than any other in baseball: No. 42.
That is the number that belonged to Jackie Robinson and once each year Major League Baseball players wear it on their backs in honor of his legacy. Jackie Robinson Day was Monday, the anniversary of when Robinson broke down baseball's color barrier in 1947, but the Indians had a scheduled day off. In 1997, under the direction of Commissioner Bud Selig, Robinson's No. 42 was retired across all of Major League Baseball in an unprecedented tribute.
"That was a good idea," center fielder Michael Bourn said of wearing No. 42 each season. "Without him, who knows where African Americans would be in baseball? There's a lot of people who have been able to play because of him. He had to endure a lot of pain and a lot of things that he probably didn't want to, but for our sake, he stepped on that field and he did it.
"I like it. It's a special day in history. Every year, I know myself, I like to play on Jackie Robinson Day. It's always a special day to play on."
Beyond wearing No. 42, Cleveland's planned pregame celebration for Robinson included a special video tribute and an on-field presentation to recognize Major League Baseball's Diverse Business Partners program.
"I think it's awesome that we embrace it," manager Terry Francona said. "I like the idea that hopefully we're being respectful of what he accomplished, but at the same time, I hope we're recognizing that that was awful."
Francona said he also understood why many people believe Larry Doby's number should also be retired by Major League Baseball. Doby became the first African-American ballplayer in the American League when he debuted with the Indians on July 5, 1947.
"For a guy that came along right after [Robinson]," Francona said, "and probably endured every bit as much, you don't hear much. But that's the way our society is."
Quote to note
"You turn on the TV and you hear, 'Right wing, left wing.' I wish there were no wings. I just wish people would get along. I don't understand it and I don't pretend to. I hope that there's people way smarter than me that somehow, someday will have figured this out so stuff like this doesn't happen. It's hard enough to be an adult. Can you imagine being a little kid growing up now? It's hard. It just makes you feel bad."
-- Francona, on Monday's bombings at the Boston Marathon
• Catcher Carlos Santana returned to the lineup Tuesday, starting behind the plate and hitting in the third spot, after being out of the starting lineup for the past four games. Santana had been recovering from a bruised left thumb, which was suffered when he got crossed up on a pitch from closer Chris Perez in the ninth inning against the Yankees on April 8.
• Indians catcher Lou Marson, who is on the 15-day disabled list while recovering from a neck strain, was scheduled to begin a Minor League rehab assignment with Triple-A Columbus on Tuesday. Marson injured his neck in a collision at home plate with Tampa Bay's Desmond Jennings during the third inning of Cleveland's 6-0 loss on April 6.
• On Tuesday, the Indians named Class A Carolina infielder Jerrud Sabourin the organization's Minor League Player of the Week for April 4-14. During that period, Sabourin hit .438 (14-for-32) with three doubles and three RBIs for the Mudcats. Sabourin entered Tuesday leading the Carolina League in batting average.
• The Indians' starting rotation combined for a 1.27 ERA (three earned runs in 21 1/3 innings) during the team's recent three-game series with the White Sox. In the Tribe's five wins, the rotation has turned in a 0.79 ERA. In Cleveland's six losses, the starters have combined for an 8.40 ERA.