- The Indians will activate right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall from the disabled list on Wednesday this week, writes Paul Hoynes of Cleveland.com, which means a roster move is forthcoming. Of the team’s four outfielders — Rajai Davis, Collin Cowgill, Marlon Byrd and Tyler Naquin — only Naquin has options and can be sent down without being exposed to waivers. Looking at the pitching staff, Hoynes lists a number of arms that are safe but doesn’t apply that designation to Joba Chamberlain, Ross Detwiler or Dan Otero. Chamberlain and Otero have been strong thus far in the young season, whereas Detwiler has surrendered runs in two of his four appearances on the year.
A few notes from the American League…
- Standout Indians left fielder Michael Brantley will soon make his 2016 debut, according to manager Terry Francona. “He’s getting pretty close,” Francona said (link via Jordan Bastian of MLB.com). Brantley is likely to play consecutive games at Double-A Akron sometime during the upcoming week, per Bastian, as he works his way back from a right shoulder injury. Brantley emerged as one of the league’s most dangerous offensive threats during the previous two seasons, slashing a combined .319/.384/.494 with 35 homers and 38 steals, before undergoing shoulder surgery last November.
- Angels southpaw Andrew Heaney still has a ways to go to return from a left flexor muscle strain, manager Mike Scioscia told reporters, including Brian Hall of MLB.com. Heaney started for the Halos on April 5 and put up a decent line against the Cubs (six innings, seven strikeouts, no walks, seven hits, four runs), but his velocity dropped precipitously from the beginning of his outing to the end and he complained of left forearm tightness. The 24-year-old then landed on the disabled list the next day.
- The Athletics will continue using both right-hander Ryan Madson and lefty Sean Doolittle to close games, manager Bob Melvin told Willie Bans of MLB.com. “We’re just trying to do the best we can with, number one, matchups and, number two, with how guys are pitching,” he said. Madson has fared well this year (six innings, two earned runs, five strikeouts, one walk) while going 3 for 3 on save chances. On the other hand, Doolittle – one of the game’s top relievers from 2012-14 – has not bounced back nicely this season after missing nearly all of last season with a shoulder injury. Although Doolittle’s velocity has stayed in line with his career averages, the 29-year-old has yielded four earned runs and three homers in 5 2/3 innings this season.
- The Indians are expected to activate right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall on Wednesday after he plays a pair of rehab games with Double-A Akron on Monday and Tuesday, Jordan Bastian of MLB.com was among those to report (Twitter link). Upon returning, Chisenhall – who has been on the disabled list since March with a left wrist injury – will vie for playing time in an Indians outfield that has mostly used Rajai Davis, Marlon Byrd and Jose Ramirez so far this year.
- The Indians aren’t ready to activate right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall from the 15-day DL because he hasn’t performed well enough during his minor league rehab assignment, writes Jordan Bastian of MLB.com. “He thinks he’s pretty close to being ready, and I kind of told him that before he went out [for his latest rehab game], that, ’I’m not trying to be harsh or critical, but when you come back, you’re taking somebody’s job, and you need to be ready,'” said manager Terry Francona. Chisenhall, who hit a meager .246/.294/.371 in 362 PAs last year, is currently rehabbing a left wrist injury in Double-A. When he returns, he’ll join an outfield stable that has prominently featured Rajai Davis, Marlon Byrd and Jose Ramirez so far this year.
- The Indians are encouraged by Trevor Bauer’s early season performance as a reliever, president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti told Paul Hoynes of cleveland.com. “I hope he continues to throw like he has in the bullpen,” said Antonetti. “What role that will ultimately morph into either in the bullpen or back in the rotation will depend on what the team needs.” The Indians shifted Bauer to the bullpen prior to the season in favor of Cody Anderson and Josh Tomlin, who beat him out for the last two jobs on the starting staff. Bauer has responded by striking out eight, walking two and allowing a pair of runs in six innings. Both of those runs came on a David Ortiz Opening Day homer, and Bauer has since worked five scoreless innings in a row. The former top prospect threw 329 frames as a starter for the Indians from 2014-15, but his results were uninspiring (4.38 ERA) and he had control problems (3.8 BB/9).
- Michael Brantley (shoulder) and Lonnie Chisenhall (wrist) have begun rehab assignments with Triple-A Columbus, so the composition of the Indians’ outfield seems likely to change soon, Cleveland.com’s Paul Hoynes writes. Part of the issue, in Brantley’s case, is that he missed most of Spring Training, so he needs to get enough repetitions in his rehab assignment so that he can be ready to play. “With Michael it’s about him building enough volume and feeling comfortable at the plate,” says Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti The Indians’ roster currently includes four outfielders — Marlon Byrd, Collin Cowgill, Rajai Davis and Tyler Naquin. Of those, only Naquin is optionable. The 38-year-old Byrd, interestingly, shares that no teams showed interest in him before the Indians signed him to a minor-league deal in mid-March. “There was no interest … zero,” he says. “I would have to ask the 29 other teams what the reason was.”
The Indians announced that they have received righty Josh Martin back from the Padres. The Rule 5 pick had been designated for assignment, with some suggestion that San Diego may attempt to find a way to hold onto him.
Cleveland will slot Martin in at the Triple-A level, where he can continue to develop and serve as pen depth without occupying a 40-man spot. Martin worked to a 3.07 ERA with 10.7 K/9 against 2.5 BB/9 over 67 1/3 innings last year at Double-A.
That showing wasn’t enough to get the Indians to commit a roster spot, but proved tantalizing enough for the Pads to give him a shot to stick. But Martin struggled this spring, allowing 13 earned runs in his 11 frames in camp. While he struck out 12 opposing batters in that span, he also surrendered 16 hits and seven walks.
The Cubs announced today that they have acquired left-handed reliever Giovanni Soto from the Indians in exchange for cash considerations. Cleveland had designated the 24-year-old southpaw for assignment last week. Kyle Schwarber has been transferred to the 60-day DL in order to clear a spot on the 40-man roster.
Soto, of course, is not to be confused by the catcher of the same (but differently spelled) name that won 2008 Rookie of the Year honors in a Cubs uniform. This Soto was a 21st-round pick by the Tigers in the 2009 draft that was ultimately traded to the Indians in exchange for Jhonny Peralta back in 2010. The Puerto Rican lefty made his big league debut with Cleveland last season, logging 3 1/3 scoreless innings without a walk or strikeout. Soto has posted very strong ERA marks throughout his minor league career, but he has struggled with his control in at the Triple-A level, averaging 5.5 walks (and 8.5 strikeouts) per nine innings to go along with a 3.03 ERA. Soto was tough on both lefties and righties last season, although in 2014 he posted a much more traditional platoon split.
The Cubs have optioned Soto to Triple-A Iowa, so he’ll serve as a depth piece for the team right now. Chicago already has two lefties — Clayton Richard and Travis Wood — in its Major League bullpen, to say nothing of lefty reliever C.J. Riefenhauser’s presence on the 40-man roster.
- Bad weather is also serving as an annoyance to the Indians and slowing right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall’s comeback from a left wrist impingement, writes Jordan Bastian of MLB.com. Before beginning his rehab assignment Sunday with Triple-A Columbus, Chisenhall hadn’t played since March 27 – thanks in part to the postponement of Columbus’ previous three games. Chisenahll, who went hitless in three at-bats Sunday, is eligible to return from the 15-day disabled list early in the upcoming week. However, the Indians might not activate him until Thursday because they face lefty starters Tuesday and Wednesday. Chisenhall owns an uninspiring career line of .241/.288/.371 against lefties.
The Indians have announced that they’ve traded utilityman Zach Walters and outfielder James Ramsey to the Dodgers for cash considerations. In corresponding moves, the Dodgers have announced that they’ve moved Andre Ethier (broken leg) and Josh Ravin (broken arm) to the 60-day DL.
Walters has seen bits of big-league action in the past three seasons with the Nationals and Indians, batting .182/.233/.394 while playing various infield positions and the corner outfield. He was in the midst of a strong Triple-A season upon being traded from Washington to Cleveland for Asdrubal Cabrera in 2014 and looked like he might be somewhat of an unconventional power-hitting prospect as an older player who could man several positions, but he hasn’t shown much offensively since the deal. The Indians designated him for assignment last week.
In a separate move, the Indians also designated Ramsey last week, just months after adding him to their 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft. The 26-year-old hit .243/.327/.382 while playing all three outfield positions for Triple-A Columbus last season. Ramsey is a former first-round draft pick and has the distinction of being traded for a big-leaguer (Justin Masterson, in 2014), but he’s never played in the big leagues.