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7/23/2013 10:00 P.M. ET

McAllister returns from DL; Lee optioned

Right-hander missed more than seven weeks with sprained middle finger

SEATTLE -- The Indians have their rotation together again.

On Tuesday, Cleveland activated right-hander Zach McAllister from the 15-day disabled list, as anticipated. After a bout with a sprained right middle finger, McAllister started the second game of the Indians' current three-game series with the Mariners.

In order to add McAllister to the roster, Cleveland optioned reliever C.C. Lee to Triple-A Columbus.

"He's worked so hard, and he's been so diligent," said Indians manager Terry Francona, discussing McAllister on Monday. "We're excited. He's definitely a big part of our future. The fact that he came through this so well, because this wasn't something to mess around with, he did a really good job with it."

McAllister, who is 4-5 with a 3.43 ERA in 11 starts this season, was placed on the disabled list on June 8 after experiencing discomfort in the middle finger on his throwing hand. The right-hander felt the most pain while throwing his curveball, which he did not use at all in his outing on June 2 before being shelved.

McAllister went 4-3 with a 2.89 ERA through nine starts to open the season before running into trouble with the finger. In his two appearances before landing on the DL, he went 0-2 with a 6.52 ERA, allowing eight runs (seven earned) on 17 hits in just 9 2/3 innings.

Last Thursday, McAllister made his final Minor League rehab start for Columbus, logging 6 2/3 shutout innings and throwing all of his pitches without any lingering issues.

McAllister rejoins a starting staff that has been on a roll of late.

Entering Tuesday, the Indians' rotation had gone 5-1 with a Major League-best 1.99 ERA in 72 1/3 innings, dating to July 7. The group has also led the Majors during that span in opponents' batting average (.181) and strikeouts (72).

Lee, who was pitching for the first time in the big leagues, turned in two shutout innings between three appearances for the Indians. Following Monday's game in Seattle, Francona asked Lee for his thoughts on his brief taste of the Majors.

"He said, 'I'm not sure I'm ready,'" Francona said. "I was like, 'Whoa.' He said, 'No, I just mean arm slot, coming back from [right elbow] surgery, being consistent.' I said, 'OK, because I think you can help us.' His stuff was filthy."

Asdrubal picked over Santana for cleanup

SEATTLE -- The Indians had a vacancy in the cleanup spot after manager Terry Francona moved Nick Swisher into the lineup's second slot on Monday. Francona weighed his options and went with switch-hitting shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera.

Cleveland catcher Carlos Santana also hits from both sides of the plate and spent the bulk of last season as the Tribe's cleanup man. Francona said he considered Santana for the role, but the manager did not want to pile too much responsibility on the catcher.

"I think he's a good hitter wherever you hit him," Francona said of Santana. "A guy that's catching and hitting cleanup, you're asking a lot. Catching is first. So then when you flip around and put a guy cleanup, you're kind of going against what you're saying.

"There's been times we've hit him cleanup out of necessity. There's been times we've hit him cleanup when he's been [the designated hitter]. But when he's catching, I'd prefer to hit him down farther."

Entering Tuesday, Santana had a .270/.379/.457 slash line to go along with 11 home runs, 36 extra-base hits, 42 runs, 44 RBIs and 55 walks through 92 games. He also had spent 81 games in either the fifth or sixth spot, hitting .276 with an .825 on-base plus slugging percentage combined in those roles.

Last year, Santana hit .236 with a .744 OPS in 81 games in the fourth spot for the Tribe.

"I just think it's sending the wrong message," Francona said of putting Santana back in the cleanup role on a full-time basis.

Cabrera entered Tuesday with career lows in batting average (.244) and on-base percentage (.305) through 75 games for the Indians. Over his past 62 games, however, the shortstop had hit .271 with a .760 OPS, which is near his career marks of .275 and .752, respectively. Heading into Tuesday's action, Cabrera was hitting just .143 over his past 15 games.

"That's just the way the game is," said Francona, noting that Cabrera has hit the ball hard lately with little to show for it. "It's a small sample size."

Francona waiting for Reynolds to end slump

SEATTLE -- Indians manager Terry Francona has been trying to find the opportune times lately for putting struggling Mark Reynolds in the lineup.

Reynolds was one of Cleveland's top offensive performers in the batter's box in April, but the designated hitter and part-time first baseman has been mired in a slump that is approaching three months. Francona still believes that it is only a matter of time before Reynolds gets on a roll again.

Reynolds was in the starting lineup as the first baseman for Tuesday's game in Seattle.

"We're dying for him to get hot," Francona said. "I've kept saying all along that we know there's a streak in there. He knows it. We know it. It's just the sooner it happens, the better for all of us. You get stuck sometimes, because we're trying to win and I want to give him enough at-bats to get him hot.

"He's had a pretty good dry spell, but I know that there's a hot streak in there. I'd sure like to see it."

Reynolds entered Tuesday batting just .075 (3-for-40) through 13 games in July. Dating to May 7, he had hit at a .172 clip with a .519 on-base plus slugging percentage in 64 games. Prior to that stretch of games, Reynolds hit .300 with a 1.026 OPS in his first 28 games of the season for the Tribe.

Overall this season, Reynolds has hit .213 with 15 home runs and 47 RBIs in 92 games.

"Whatever has happened, has happened," Francona said. "Once he takes that one good swing, once he gets back on that where he feels good, he'll be every bit as dangerous as he ever was. Maybe his batting average is a little lower than he'd like, but that won't matter once he gets hot."

Quote to note

"We don't need anybody to carry us. My biggest thing for us is just keeping the line moving. We have that type of team where, because of our speed and our ability to go first to third, that's when we're at our best."
--Indians manager Terry Francona, on his offense.

Smoke signals

• Mariners manager Eric Wedge has been in an area hospital since experiencing dizzy spells during batting practice on Monday at Safeco Field. Earlier this week, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was sidelined due to illness while the Indians were in Minnesota. Cleveland manager Terry Francona said the job of a big league manager can certainly take a toll on one's health.

"I can't speak for Wedgie, because I don't know what's going on," Francona said on Tuesday. "But we're all probably lunatics for wanting to do this job. Sometimes it wears you down. That's just part of it. I know when the season's over, I collapse. And then, you regroup and do it again."

• Indians right-hander Corey Kluber, who exited his start on Saturday due to tightness in his left hip and upper left hamstring, completed a bullpen session with no issues on Tuesday. Francona said Kluber is "good to go" for his scheduled start against the Rangers.

• Cleveland headed into Tuesday's meeting against the Mariners with a 12-3 record this season against clubs from the American League West. The Indians' .800 winning percentage against the AL West was the best mark in baseball.

• This day in Indians history: In 1960, Cleveland center fielder Jimmy Piersall was ejected from a game against the Red Sox after ignoring home-plate umpire Eddie Hurley's repeated warnings to stop running around the outfield with his arms raised while Ted Williams was at the plate.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.