CINCINNATI -- The Indians are betting on the idea that a change of scenery will do wonders for reliever Esmil Rogers. That, along with Rogers' powerful fastball, convinced Cleveland to acquire the right-hander from the Rockies.
On Wednesday, a day after being shipped to the Indians in exchange for cash considerations, Rogers was officially added to Cleveland's active roster. To clear a spot on the team for the reliever, the Tribe optioned first baseman Matt LaPorta to Triple-A Columbus.
Rogers made his Indians debut in Wednesday's 5-3 loss to the Reds -- tossing one hitless eighth inning with two strikeouts in relief of Nick Hagadone.
"He's got a great arm," Indians manager Manny Acta said of Rogers. "That's why we're taking a flier on him. It's about command. He's just got to cut down his walks and be able to repeat his delivery and get back to it.
"We're hoping that getting him out of the Colorado ballpark and new surroundings, maybe we can cash in on a very good arm."
Rogers is hoping for the same.
"I'm excited," he said. "I'm excited to be here with the team. It's a really good team. There's a lot of talent here, so I think it's a great opportunity for me to show my ability."
Rogers, 26, posted an 8.06 ERA with a 2.10 WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched) across 23 appearances for the Rockies this season. In 25 2/3 innings, the righty struck out 29 and walked 18. Over the past three seasons with Colorado, Rogers fashioned a 6.82 ERA and a 1.83 WHIP.
This season, though, Rogers has averaged a touch over 96 mph on his fastball. The pitcher knows that he needs to improve his control of that high-speed heater down in the strike zone in order to be more effective.
"It's about high pitches," Rogers said. "If my fastball is high, anybody can hit it. It doesn't matter if you throw hard, if you pitch high, everybody can hit it everywhere. I think my mechanics are good. I just need to work on finishing my pitches."
Acta noted that Rogers would serve as a long reliever for the time being for the Tribe, which currently has eight relievers in the bullpen. The manager indicated that the ballclub would likely go with the additional arm at least through the next homestand, which features Interleague meetings against the Pirates and Reds.
Acta added that demoting LaPorta, who hit .182 (2-for-11) in three games since being called up from Triple-A, was not a sign that the organization has soured on the first baseman.
"No, not at all," Acta said. "It's just kind of an odd time. He joined us [on June 3] right at a time when we were going to come over here for Interleague games. It's just the move that made the most sense for us right now. Matt didn't get enough at-bats this time around up here for us to make decisions based on that."
Brantley steady, extends hitting streak to 20
CINCINNATI -- Michael Brantley is not even halfway to Joe DiMaggio's historic hitting streak, so Indians manager Manny Acta is hardly worried that the center fielder is beginning to feel any pressure during his impressive run.
"Not until you come to his locker every single day and start bringing it up," Acta said. "I think for the most part, they feel confident that they're swinging the bat well and things are going well for them, but I think it's kind of early for him to feel any kind of pressure. I mean, it's 56."
Fifty-six games is the big league record DiMaggio set with the Yankees in 1941. Sandy Alomar Jr. owns Cleveland's franchise record with a 30-game hitting streak in '97.
With a fourth-inning single in Wednesday's game against the Reds, Brantley extended his hitting streak to a career-best 20 games. Entering the contest, Cleveland's center fielder had hit .351 (26-for-74) with five extra-base hits, 11 runs and 15 RBIs over his past 19 games, lifting his season average to .286 from .255 in the process.
Brantley's run is the longest active streak in the Majors and the longest for an Indians hitter since Casey Blake's 26-game hitting streak in 2007. Brantley also enjoyed a 19-game run in 2010, making him only the second Cleveland batter -- Julio Franco (1988) being the other -- since 1921 to have two hitting streaks consisting of at least 19 games.
Just do not suggest to Acta that Brantley might be in the midst of a breakout season.
"Brantley was a very good player for us last year up until he injured his wrist," said Acta, referring to the right wrist issue that ended the outfielder's season in August. "Michael probably spent a month playing injured last year, up until he shut it down. He was on his way to having a pretty solid season for us.
"He's mature. He's a guy who knows he belongs here and, starting last year, with his confidence, you could tell."
Tribe's Soloff named to All-Star medical staff
CINCINNATI -- The Indians have their first All-Star. On Wednesday, Major League Baseball unveiled the All-Star staffs and Indians head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff was named to the American League's medical team.
Soloff will be joined by Nick Kenney, head athletic trainer of the Royals and a former assistant trainer for the Indians, on Rangers and AL manager Ron Washington's staff.
"It's humbling," Soloff said. "It'll be an honor to represent the Indians organization, as well as the American League. An added bonus is that I'll be working alongside Nick Kenney. It'll be neat to share that experience with him. I'm definitely excited about that."
Soloff, who is in his ninth season as the Tribe's head athletic trainer, is planning on bringing his wife and three children with him to Kansas City for the Midsummer Classic. He is hoping to have a handful of Indians players there as well.
"Hopefully, a few of our guys get to be there, too," he said. "That'd be fun."
Indians manager Manny Acta, who was on the AL All-Star coaching staff last year, was thrilled for Soloff.
"I'm happy that he's going to be able to be a part of it," Acta said. "I think it's a great experience and we're well represented over there with him."
Quote to note
"Most of the time, when you have the kind of start that he had this year, it's always good when you have a change of scenery. It's going to help him a lot, especially getting out of Coors Field. He's going to feel like he's reborn. It's not easy to pitch there."
-- Indians pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez, who was teammates with Esmil Rogers in Colorado.
In the second inning of Tuesday's 7-1 loss to the Reds, Indians pitcher Jeanmar Gomez used a perfectly-executed bunt to move a runner from first to second base. The only problem? Gomez did not realize there were two outs. Cleveland's starter was easily retired at first base to end the inning.
"At least we know he can bunt," Indians manager Manny Acta said, "regardless of how many outs there are."
Entering Wednesday, the Indians were 3-4 in Interleague Play this season after posting an 11-7 mark against National League opponents last year. Cleveland is in the midst of a 15-game stretch against NL foes. Tribe pitchers were 2-for-10 at the plate, entering Wednesday, after going 3-for-19 last year.
Indians left fielder Johnny Damon headed into Wednesday's action with 999 career walks. With one more free pass, Damon will become only the 114th player in baseball history to achieve at least 1,000 career walks. The 38-year-old outfielder ranks 11th for walks among active players.
Indians third baseman Jack Hannahan, who is on the 15-day disabled list due to back and left calf injuries, went 0-for-3 and played third base in a Minor League rehab appearance with Class A Lake County on Tuesday. Hannahan took the day off on Wednesday and is slated to make another appearance for Lake County on Thursday.