5/4/2014 11:08 A.M. ET
Tribe's versatility getting tested during homestand
By Stephen Ellsesser / Special to MLB.com
CLEVELAND -- Short-term injuries to Michael Bourn and Jason Giambi, Yan Gomes' exit to the paternity list and Jason Kipnis' stint on the DL are testing the Indians' depth in the midst of this seven-game homestand.
With Elliot Johnson gone from the roster, Jose Ramirez and Mike Aviles are the answer at second base. For the second straight day, Ramirez started at second on Sunday.
Saturday, backup catcher George Kottaras, called up when Gomes left Saturday for his daughter's birth, was the only position player who didn't see action.
Kottaras started behind the plate Sunday, sending Carlos Santana back to third base and freeing up Aviles to be subbed in, well, pretty much anywhere.
"That's the reason we feel so fortunate to have guys like Aviles, [Ryan] Raburn, and now Jose Ramirez here," Francona said. "Last night, we did get a little thin. You look at Aviles, and he goes to the position you tell him to go to. It's kind of nice. …
"It's nice to have some versatility, where you can do some things even when you're running kind of thin."
Bourn expects to return soon; Giambi available Sunday
CLEVELAND -- The prognosis is good for both Michael Bourn and Jason Giambi.
Bourn left Saturday's game after the third inning with soreness in his left hamstring, the third flareup of that injury in the past seven months or so.
Bourn tweaked the surgically repaired hamstring in Spring Training, missing the first couple weeks of the season. He was not in the starting lineup Sunday, but he was optimistic about his return.
"It's nothing major, just something lingering," Bourn said. "I'm just going to take it one day at a time, see how it feels [Monday], and go from there."
Bourn could return to the lineup as early as Monday in the series opener against the Twins.
"I think the training staff thinks there's a chance he plays tomorrow," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "If they're saying that, it's a good sign."
Meanwhile, Giambi could pinch-hit Sunday. He was yanked with a right calf cramp in the sixth inning, and Ryan Raburn came in to pinch-hit for him.
Giambi said Saturday that he would not start Sunday, and he was not in the lineup.
"Bournie and G both came in today doing really well," Francona said. "I think we were trying to be optimistic last night. The way they came in today, there's a reason for that. Both have come in and done some activity."
Tribe recalls Morgan to bolster outfield depth
CLEVELAND -- Tony Plush is back in Cleveland.
After starting center fielder Michael Bourn left Saturday's game with tightness in his left hamstring, the Indians called up Nyjer Morgan from Triple-A Columbus on Sunday to give the team more depth.
Reliever Nick Hagadone -- summoned Saturday when Elliot Johnson was designated for assignment -- was officially optioned to Triple-A Columbus, although he remained in Cleveland.
The ninth arm in the Tribe's bullpen, Hagadone arrived in Cleveland on Saturday, but he didn't dress.
"I talked to Hags, he was probably going to be here three days, anyway," Tribe manager Terry Francona said. "We were going to carry an extra bullpen arm, but now we get Nyjer up here, and it really helps."
Morgan did not speak to the media before Sunday's game. He started in center field and took Bourn's place atop the Indians' batting order.
Morgan began the season as Cleveland's starting center fielder while Bourn recovered from an injury to his left hamstring. Morgan was batting .348 (8-for-23) in nine games entering play Sunday.
"I know it's not ideal for [Morgan] getting sent down," Francona said. "Sometimes as an organization, you almost have to have some guys like that have options. It may be up and down for him. We don't know, but it's nice to have a guy like him.
"[Morgan] did everything we asked. That's what we told him when we sent him down, and that's why he's back. The conversation doesn't change when you send someone down. You tell them the truth."
The Indians will have further roster moves in the coming days. Yan Gomes was put on the paternity list Saturday, and the maximum stay there is three days.
Meanwhile, Cleveland will also need to create a roster spot to call up Josh Tomlin to make Tuesday's start against the Twins.
• Ramirez made his second straight start at second base on Sunday, and he is making a strong impression in his second stint in the Majors. Whatever Ramirez does, he does it with plenty of energy.
"When younger guys handle it appropriately, it can be very invigorating, the enthusiasm that comes from younger guys," Francona said. "Last September, everyone got kind of a kick out of [Ramirez]. I think he's kind of endeared himself to a lot of people quickly."
• Whether it's filling the gap while Bourn's hamstring heals or figuring out the new No. 5 starter, the Indians have found they have many players they can rely on throughout their farm system.
Francona said that's going to be important for the Tribe going forward. Staying competitive with the Indians' payroll hinges on being able to pull talent from within, a struggle for the organization for some time.
"I think we're starting to get stronger," Francona said. "Our Minor League system, [general manager] Chris [Antonetti] kind of said maybe last year, that's one of the goals.
"There's that group of kids that's coming, starting now to edge into Double-A and Triple-A. Because the more you develop your own, obviously, I don't care what team you are, but especially us, the better it is."
• In the series finale against the White Sox on Sunday, the Indians look to continue the longest home winning streak against the White Sox in Progressive Field's history. Cleveland has won eight straight home games against the White Sox heading into Sunday.
Stephen Ellsesser is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.