CLEVELAND -- Catcher George Kottaras swung his way into the Indians' record book on Sunday, and survived a roster decision on Monday.
Cleveland purchased Kottaras' contract from Triple-A Columbus on Saturday, when starting catcher Yan Gomes was placed on Major League Baseball's paternity list. Gomes returned on Monday, but the Indians cleared a spot on the roster by placing designated hitter Jason Giambi (right calf strain) on the 15-day disabled list.
When the Indians promote right-hander Josh Tomlin from Triple-A Columbus on Tuesday to start against the Twins, the team will once again need to weigh whether to keep Kottaras on the roster. Kottaras would need to be designated for assignment due to being out of Minor League options.
"We'd love to keep him," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "We're going to have to walk through it probably daily for a while to see what fits and how we make it fit. We can only have 25. We'll see. I think George is aware that we'd like to keep him here. He's also a smart kid. He knows that you have to do what you have to do."
During Sunday's 4-3 loss to the White Sox, the 30-year-old Kottaras became the first player in Indians history to launch a home run in each of his first two career plate appearances with the team. Kottaras finished 2-for-3 on the day after going just 2-for-25 with 11 strikeouts in his stint at Triple-A.
Kottaras has hit only .216 in parts of seven seasons in the Majors, but he gives Cleveland a true backup catcher, and also briefly played for Francona in Boston (2008-09). As things currently stand, the Tribe's backup catcher, Carlos Santana, is serving as the club's regular third baseman.
The Indians signed Kottaras to a Minor League contract on March 31 -- five days after he was released by the Cubs.
"I love George. He's hard not to like," Francona said. "There's reasons why guys like that find their way back to the big leagues when they get sent down, for whatever reasons. When you have players that you had before, and you go seeking them out when they're available, that normally means they did some things as a teammate that you really respect."
Tribe reinstates Gomes, places Giambi on DL
CLEVELAND -- Indians manager Terry Francona was pleased with a pair of his players on Monday. One agreed to rejoin the team earlier than expected, and the other was willing to accept a trip to the disabled list to make it happen.
Prior to Monday's game against the Twins, Cleveland activated catcher Yan Gomes from the Major League paternity list and inserted him back into the starting lineup. In order to clear a spot on the active roster, veteran designated hitter Jason Giambi was placed on the 15-day DL with a strained right calf.
Gomes rejoined the Tribe one game earlier than required.
"First of all, it was pretty cool that Gomer came back, because he didn't have to," Francona said. "[Giambi] can hit, but he's not sure if he can kind of do the rest of it, to the point where it's a little bit iffy. So I just talked to him today. He continues to amaze me by his willingness to see past himself, to see the team.
"When you leave the room [after] talking to 'G', even when you put him on the DL, you just feel like a better person."
Cleveland placed Gomes on the list on Saturday so the starting catcher could be with his wife, Jenna, for the birth of their first child. They welcomed a daughter, Brooklyn Mae, to their family on Saturday morning in Cleveland. MLB's paternity list allows a player to miss up to three games.
"I was a pretty good cheerleader the last couple days," Gomes said. "We're just excited and so blessed. The whole experience was unbelievable. I'm just extremely proud of my wife. I can't even begin to say how much. What she went through, and just to see how strong she was, was pretty unbelievable."
Through 26 games for the Indians this season, Gomes has hit .261 with three home runs and 10 RBIs.
The 43-year-old Giambi, who is 0-for-10 on the season, exited Saturday's game against the White Sox due to the calf injury in the sixth inning. Giambi -- a veteran of 20 years in the Majors -- opened the season on the 15-day DL due to a fractured rib in his right side.
Indians continue to evaluate Bourn's injury
CLEVELAND -- The Indians planned on using Monday to continue to evaluate Michael Bourn's recovery from his latest hamstring setback.
Cleveland manager Terry Francona indicated that Bourn was scheduled to "go hard" in running drills prior to Monday's game against the Twins in order to test his left hamstring. Bourn exited Saturday's win over the White Sox in the third inning due to tightness in the leg.
"We've got to see how he feels, and he's the one that has to tell us," Francona said. "We just want to make him understand that he's got to be honest, and then we'll sit down with him and make decisions. That's kind of how we always do things."
The Indians will need to make a roster move on Tuesday in order to promote right-hander Josh Tomlin to start against Minnesota. It is possible that Cleveland could option outfielder Nyjer Morgan, if Bourn is deemed ready to go. Third-string catcher George Kottaras is also vulnerable, though he would need to be designated for assignment.
If Bourn's injury lingers into Tuesday, placing him on the disabled list is also a possibility. The center fielder opened this season on the 15-day DL with a left hamstring strain, which he sustained during Spring Training. Bourn tore the same hamstring on the final game of the regular season last year and underwent surgery on Oct. 15.
Francona said the hope is that the injury does not continue to create problems throughout this season.
"It has crept up now a couple times," Francona said. "I think, from talking to the trainers, the hope is that there's just some scar tissue that is in there, and he's going to feel it sometimes. If that's all it is, we're good to go. That's the hope."
Quote to note
"Well, I'm not sure I want him sitting here."
-- Francona, joking when asked if he feels veteran Jason Giambi will be a big league manager down the road.
• Given the inconsistencies of Cleveland's starting rotation throughout April, Francona was pleased with the staff's showing against the White Sox over the weekend. Danny Salazar, Justin Masterson and Corey Kluber went a combined 2-0 with a 1.79 ERA and 25 strikeouts against six walks in 20 1/3 innings.
"It certainly makes the game seem more winnable, even when your offense is inconsistent," Francona said. "When your pitcher is putting up zeros, you get into the fifth or sixth inning and you're either within range or you're up a couple, as opposed to maybe scoring late and it's like, 'Good effort, but you came up short.' You can win 9-8 sometimes, but not a lot. It's a hard way to win."
• Indians closer John Axford had turned in six shutout innings with five saves between his blown saves (April 13 and Sunday) against the White Sox. On Sunday, Axford issued a pair of walks before yielding a three-run home run to Chicago's Dayan Viciedo. Francona said Axford worked with pitching coach Mickey Callaway on a mechanical adjustment on Monday.
"Mickey got with him today a little bit," Francona said. "I think he felt like -- [Callaway] would explain it better -- but he got a little more bent over, so his arm and everything wasn't catching up. You saw him come in and go like ball one, ball two, ball three. I think they feel like there were some things that had maybe gotten a little out of whack."
• On Sunday, Kluber became only the seven pitcher to record at least 13 strikeouts in an outing at Progressive Field. Pedro Martinez owns the ballpark record with 14 for the Red Sox on Sept. 15, 1999. The others on the list include Randy Johnson (1995), Dave Burba (1999), Chuck Finley (1000), CC Sabathia (2007) and Doug Fister (2011).
• Entering Monday's game against the Twins, the Indians rotation had a 3.35 ERA (37 earned runs in 99 1/3 innings) at home. That included a 1.51 ERA (six earned runs in 35 2/3 innings) over the last five starts. Overall, the Indians have a 4.47 ERA, including a 5.87 ERA on the road.