BOSTON -- In their continuous quest for consistent left-handed relief, the Indians adjusted their bullpen prior to Thursday's game against the Red Sox.
Cleveland designated left-hander David Huff for assignment and replaced him with lefty Scott Barnes, who was summoned from Triple-A Columbus. The Indians now have 10 days to trade or release Huff, who can also decline an outright assignment to the Minors, if he clears waivers.
"When Huffy came up, it was a chance to get a look at him and keep him in the organization," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "It let Nick [Hagadone] go down [to Triple-A] and pitch. You say it all the time in Spring Training, that you need more than your 11 or 12, and we meant that. So even though there's roster changes, it's not as in flux as it looks. It keeps guys in their roles."
This season, however, the Tribe has had inconsistent results from its lefty bullpen options.
The quartet of Rich Hill, Hagadone, Barnes and Huff combined for a 6.16 ERA, allowing 24 runs (21 earned) with 21 walks in 30 2/3 innings. Left-handed relief was also an issue in 2012, when the club cycled through seven southpaws, who teamed for a 4.53 ERA over 143 innings.
General manager Chris Antonetti said it is most important to have reliable relief pitching throughout the bullpen.
"Some of the right-handers have done an exceptional job," Antonetti said. "Cody Allen's done a great job. Bryan Shaw's done a great job. Our focus is having pitchers out there that are capable of getting out left-handed hitters or right-handed hitters, regardless of what hand they throw with. I think we have a group of guys out there that are really effective in getting both groups of hitters out."
Huff, who was called up from Triple-A on May 13, appeared in three games this season for the Indians and surrendered five runs on seven hits in three innings. In the fifth inning of Cleveland's 11-7 loss to Detroit on Wednesday, Huff yielded three runs in a 29-pitch outing.
Huff, 28, has gone 18-26 with a 5.40 ERA in 58 career games (52 starts) in parts of five seasons for the Indians, who selected him in the first round of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft. The lefty led the Indians in wins (11) as a rookie in 2009, but struggled to keep a spot on the big league staff in the following seasons. In Triple-A this year, Huff has gone 3-1 with a 4.07 ERA in 24 1/3 innings.
Barnes returns to the Indians for his third stint with the big league club this year. In his first three appearances, he posted a 4.50 ERA with four strikeouts in four innings, while holding hitters to a .077 average. In Columbus, the left-hander was 2-2 with a 5.74 ERA in 15 2/3 innings, in which he had 19 strikeouts against eight walks.
Barnes worked the final three innings of Thursday's 12-3 victory, allowing two hits and striking out four to record his first big league save.
Bourn still mad at assisting Cabrera's home run
BOSTON -- Sitting at his locker inside the visitors' clubhouse at Fenway Park, Indians center fielder Michael Bourn was still stewing over the fly ball he did not catch on Wednesday night.
In the eighth inning of an 11-7 loss to the Tigers, Bourn sprinted to the warning track in center and positioned himself to catch a deep drive off the bat of slugger Miguel Cabrera. The baseball landed in Bourn's glove, but bounced back out and sailed over the wall for a two-run home run that will have a home on baseball's blooper reels.
"I was mad the whole plane ride here. I'm still mad," said Bourn, who then shook his head and allowed himself to laugh. "I'm going to always be mad at that. At the same time, I can get over it. It's just one of those things. I take pride in playing center field. I messed up. There's nothing I can say, but that it's my fault."
The home run was Cabrera's 13th and it upped the reigning American League Most Valuable Player's RBI total to 52 through 44 games.
Cabrera hardly needs a helping hand.
"That's never happened to me," Bourn said. "Usually when it goes in my glove, it don't come out. That time, it came out. I don't know if it's because I jarred against the wall, or what. I gave somebody that really doesn't need any help hitting home runs a home run. That's how I look at it. I was like, 'Man, this man leads the league in RBIs and [is second in] home runs, and he gets that.'"
Bourn said he made a point of apologizing to left-hander Rich Hill, who saw his ERA go from 3.09 to 3.95 because of the two runs charged to his line.
"I can't take that off his ERA," said Bourn, who has two Gold Gloves for his defensive prowess. "That's the person you feel bad for -- not for yourself. You did miss the ball, but there's nothing you can do about it for him. Man, I know he hit it good, but he didn't hit it good enough to get out of the park. I helped it get out of the park."
Indians manager Terry Francona said he hopes Bourn does not beat himself up too much over the fluke play.
"I felt so bad for him," Francona said. "I just wanted to make sure he was OK. He's so conscientious. He was so upset with himself."
Tribe working with Carrasco on suspension
BOSTON -- Carlos Carrasco might have a place in the Indians rotation again at some point this season. First, Cleveland has to find a way to navigate around the eight-game suspension that is hanging over the right-hander's head.
Indians general manager Chris Antonetti said the team has discussed a variety of possible scenarios.
"There are ways," Antonetti said. "I think right now he's filed an appeal, so they're working through the appeal process. Once they have a sense of what the final suspension will be -- maybe it's eight, maybe it's less -- we'll have to work around it when he comes back at the Major League level."
Carrasco, who is currently with Triple-A Columbus, was hit with an eight-game ban after it was determined by Major League Baseball that he intentionally hit Yankees third baseman Kevin Youkilis with a pitch in the fourth inning of an outing on April 9. Carrasco had allowed a home run in the previous at-bat against Robinson Cano.
It was the second such instance for Carrasco. On July 29, 2011, he threw in the area of Billy Butler's head in a start against Kansas City -- one batter after allowing a home run. Carrasco was punished with a six-game suspension after that incident, though it was reduced to five games. The righty served that suspension at the start of this season, because he missed all of last year while recovering from an elbow injury.
The easiest way around the current suspension would be to wait to promote Carrasco until rosters expand to 40 players on Sept. 1. Another option would be to have the pitcher join the rotation shortly before the All-Star break in July. Carrasco could technically make a start (while still appealing), and then drop the appeal before sitting out four games on either side of the break.
Through eight games with Triple-A Columbus, Carrasco has gone 2-0 with a 1.36 ERA over 39 2/3 innings, during which he has piled up 41 strikeouts against nine walks. Cleveland has closely monitored his innings -- limiting him to no more than six innings in any outing to this point -- considering he missed the entirety of last season.
"He's done everything we could've possibly asked of him in Triple-A," Antonetti said. "He's gone out and he's really dominated almost every start out there and he's done it efficiently, where he's been able to get hitters out and he's accumulated a lot of strikeouts and hasn't used a lot of pitches doing it. That's a challenging thing to do.
"He's using all his pitches. He's been very aggressive in attacking the strike zone. We've all seen it. He has above-average Major League stuff. When he puts it all together, he has a chance to really help our team."
Quote to note
"I want to make it as easy as I can for [the players] to play the game, because that's why we're here. I think it's unfair if they have to carry a little bit of my baggage through this series. I don't want that to happen."
-- Indians manager Terry Francona, on his anticipated return to Boston
• Indians first baseman Nick Swisher, who is currently on Major League Baseball's paternity list, is scheduled to be activated in time for Friday's game in Boston. Swisher and his wife, JoAnna, welcomed a daughter into the world on Tuesday.
"He'll be back [Friday] for the game," Francona said. "That's one of those situations where I can't tell you how much we support what he's doing. We're missing him at the same time and can't wait for him to come back, but we completely support him and Jo. That's the way he's supposed to be."
• Indians right-hander Brett Myers (on the 15-day disabled list with a right elbow injury) allowed three runs on four hits and had four walks, one hit batsman and two strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings of a rehab start with Double-A Akron on Wednesday. Antonetti indicated that Myers would need at least one more Minor League rehab start.
"He had a challenging first inning with strike throwing," Antonetti said. "I think he walked four left-handers. Overall, most importantly, he felt healthy. And I think he felt better in his last inning than he did in the first. We're still working through it. He'll make at least one more start."
• With runners on the corners in the fifth inning of Wednesday's 11-7 loss to the Tigers, Indians catcher Yan Gomes threw out Omar Infante on an attempted steal of second base. On the play, Detroit's Don Kelly scored easily from third. Francona said the decision to throw to second was his call.
"That's completely on me," Francona said. "The way the score was, we will exchange a run to get off the field. We've got first and third, one out, and they're knocking the ball all over the ballpark. That was exactly what we were supposed to do."
• Entering Thursday, Indians catchers led the Major Leagues in on-base percentage (.392), slugging percentage (.622) and OPS (1.014), and were tied for first in home runs (11), while ranking second in average (.301), third in doubles (13) and sixth in RBIs (24).