4/18/2014 8:44 P.M. ET
Gomes remembers time with Toronto fondly
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
CLEVELAND -- Hours before the Indians hosted the Blue Jays on Friday, Indians catcher Yan Gomes headed to the field during an early round of batting practice to chat with a few of his former Toronto teammates. Gomes will always cherish the brief stint he had north of the border.
Gomes debuted with the Blue Jays in 2012, but Toronto then traded him, along with infielder Mike Aviles, to the Indians in exchange for pitcher Esmil Rogers on Nov. 3 that year. In 2013, Gomes emerged as Cleveland's everyday catcher and he earned a six-year, $23 million extension at the start of this season.
"I'm extremely happy being here in Cleveland," Gomes said on Friday. "It's not just from being the starting catcher. I love this team. I love the way they've treated me here. But I've got a lot to thank from Toronto, man. They're the ones who called me up. They're the ones who gave me the chance to play professional baseball.
"They're always going to have a special place. They're the ones who gave me that opportunity and trusted me right from the beginning. Even from that trade, I don't think I even had enough time to say it was a bad thing or anything. It was just a part of the business. I moved on and I'm excited to be here in Cleveland now."
At the time of the trade, the Blue Jays still had a pair of promising catchers -- J.P. Arencibia and Travis d'Arnaud -- above Gomes on the depth chart. Both catchers are with different teams now, but at that point in time, Toronto viewed Gomes as a utility player. He bounced between first and third base, caught some and played a little outfield for the Jays.
"I wasn't a [full-time] catcher then," Gomes said. "I was an anywhere kind-of-guy. From that first year in 2012, I was looking to be a super utility guy for my career. I was excited for just being a part of a team. They called me up and it was definitely a neat experience being up there in Toronto. I learned from it."
Gomes -- the first Brazilian-born player to reach the Major Leagues -- also enjoyed playing in Toronto due to it being such a multi-cultural city.
"And I'm a multi-cultural guy," he said with a laugh. "It couldn't have worked out more perfect. They're the only team out of the country and I was the first player from a different country. It was exciting. They welcomed me in really well."
Francona: Giambi will be activated Monday
CLEVELAND -- The Indians have decided to give Jason Giambi a few more days of rest before activating the veteran slugger from the disabled list.
Indians manager Terry Francona said the ballclub will wait until Monday to add the 43-year-old Giambi to the active roster, giving the team the weekend to consider its corresponding transaction. Cleveland might option a reliever when Giambi returns, but Francona wanted to keep the bullpen intact for now.
"We were thinking about Sunday," Francona said. "And then, just trying to keep our bullpen, our team in order, I think if we shoot for Monday, that will make things a little bit easier as far as moving forward with our team."
Francona said Giambi was more than willing to go along with that plan.
"Every manager should have the luxury of having 'G' once," Francona said. "Unfortunately, no other manager is going to, because he's going to stick with us. But he gets it. I've been fortunate. I've been around a lot of good players, but man, he gets it. He just wants to help."
Giambi, who is coming back from a non-displaced fracture of a rib in his right side, finished a Minor League rehab assignment with Double-A Akron on Wednesday, having gone 0-for-8 with two walks in theee games. On Friday, Giambi said he felt completely healthy, but added that the extra days will give him a little more time to make sure his swing is in order.
"It gives me a few more days to take more swings and get acclimated and kind of get things right before I get in there," Giambi said. "I'm excited to get back and be part of the club and do my part, not only on the field, but off the field as well."
Francona will likely use Giambi in a similar manner as last season, when the veteran of 20 seasons filled a role as a part-time designated hitter and pinch-hitter. In 2013, Giambi hit .183 with nine home runs and 31 RBIs in 71 games. He posted a 1.181 OPS in the ninth inning and hit .271 with a .960 OPS with runners in scoring position.
While the Indians had only played 15 games heading into Friday, Francona said Giambi has undoubtedly been missed early on this season.
"It's a nice teammate to have around," Francona said. "He can be a settling influence. He can kick somebody in the pants. It's a great guy to have around. Believe me, I wouldn't say all these things if they weren't true."
Swisher's struggles don't concern Francona
CLEVELAND -- The last thing Indians manager Terry Francona is going to do is make too much of a slump roughly two weeks into the season. That is especially true when it comes to a veteran player such as Nick Swisher.
Heading into Friday's game with the Blue Jays, Swisher was hitting just .164 (10-for-61) with two home runs, one double and seven RBIs in 15 games. The switch-hitter had 14 strikeouts compared to eight walks to go along with a .261 on-base percentage and .279 slugging percentage.
"For whatever reason, some players get off to a cold start," Francona said. "It always happens, and you dont have a remedy, or a pill to take. You have to ride it out and work hard. The good part is, you look at the back of their baseball card.
"I'm telling you, they're going to get to their level, the guys that are struggling. As hard as it is now, when they get hot, they're going to get real hot."
For his career, Swisher has turned in a .255/.358/.462 slash line over 1,354 games, with at least 20 home runs in nine consecutive seasons. He had a prolonged cold spell to open last season, when he hit .229 over the first 65 games. When the season ended, Swisher turned in a .246/.341/.423 line with 22 homers, 27 doubles, 63 RBIs and 77 walks in 145 games.
Francona said he has been pleased to this point that Swisher has not let the early struggles affect his attitude.
"I just think Swish wants so bad for us to be good," Francona said. "That's probably the biggest [thing]. Even [on Thursday], he was having a pretty tough day at the plate and, when we were showing signs of getting that tying run on or trying to get the tying run to the plate, he was about as loud as anybody.
"He wants to win. I've never seen Swish, on a personal bad day, not be excited when we win. And I mean that about as complimentary as you can say it."
Quote to note
"You still have to be able to play. If you can't, you make a guy a coach. But 'G' can change the game in the batter's box, and again, he's not here to hit .300. If he did, that'd be great, but he's here to change the game with one of his swings. He has the ability to do that."
--Indians manager Terry Francona, on veteran Jason Giambi
• Indians third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall churned out a career-high four hits in Thursday's 7-5 loss to the Tigers. Entering Friday, Chisenhall was batting .522 (12-for-23) on the young season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Chisenhall is one of just four Indians hitters since 1935 to post at least a .500 average through their first seven games (minimum 20 at-bats). That short list also includes Sandy Alomar Jr. (.581 in 1997), Bill Glynn (.522 in 1954) and Lou Boudreau (.517 in 1948).
"I do think Lonnie has gone about his business in a really professional way," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "And I think he's got a little bit more calm in the batter's box. There's not as much panic maybe, when things aren't going right. And I do think, because of that, you're going to see more success."
• Entering Friday's game against the Blue Jays, the Indians bullpen had posted a 3.04 ERA (17 earned runs in 50 1/3 innings) with a .215 opponents' batting average (both figures ranked fifth in the American League). The Tribe's relief corps led the Major League by stranding 95 percent (20-for-21) of inherited runners.
• Indians outfield prospect Clint Frazier (taken with the fifth overall pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft) made his season debut with Class A (low) Lake County on Thursday. In the Captains' 6-3 win over Burlington, the 19-year-old Frazier went 1-for-5 with an RBI single and one run scored. Frazier's debut was delayed due to a hamstring issue.