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Tribe designates Cunningham to add Lillibridge

CLEVELAND -- It has been a whirlwind month for Brent Lillibridge.

Lillibridge was traded from the White Sox to the Red Sox on June 25, he was designated for assignment by Boston on July 16, and on Wednesday, he arrived in Cleveland to play for the Indians. The Tribe acquired Lillibridge on Tuesday, and he was in uniform for Wednesday night's game against the Tigers.

"It's been a long month," the 28-year-old Lillibridge said. "A lot of crazy things have happened, a lot of emotions, but I'm ready to go. ... I'm just happy to be somewhere. I'm happy to be back in the [American League] Central, because it feels familiar."

To make room for Lillibridge on the active roster, Cleveland designated outfielder Aaron Cunningham for assignment. The 26-year-old Cunningham hit .175 with a home run and seven RBIs in 72 games for the Indians this season. He was used primarily as a defensive replacement in left field, a role Lillibridge figures to take over. Cunningham executed a suicide squeeze play to help the Indians score the go-ahead run in their 3-2 win over Detroit on Tuesday.

Indians manager Manny Acta said the team will keep Cunningham if he clears waivers after a week.

"We like Aaron," Acta said. "He was a good teammate. He did everything we asked him to do. We just felt that by having a guy like Lillibridge, we could use him on the infield to rest [Asdrubal] Cabrera. It was more convenient for us."

Acta plans to use Lillibridge in a role similar to the one he's had in the past. Lillibridge will serve as a late-inning replacement for Johnny Damon and Shelley Duncan in left field, but he'll also get an occasional start at shortstop or second base. Lillibridge came up as a shortstop, so he's comfortable playing on the middle infield.

"I've had some success in the outfield, which I feel like is a lot easier than the infield," Lillibridge said. "But I love the challenge of being on the infield, especially shortstop. You've got to be in on every single pitch. You're locked in the whole game."

Lillibridge's offensive numbers aren't great, but he's hopeful he can turn it around with more at-bats. He hit .165 with two RBIs in 59 games for the White Sox and Red Sox this season. Lillibridge is a career .212 hitter and hit 13 homers in 97 games for Chicago last year.

No matter what his position -- or how much he plays -- Lillibridge is intent on helping the Indians continue their playoff push. They entered Wednesday's game three games behind Detroit for first place in the AL Central.

"I've been close a lot of times, especially with the White Sox," Lillibridge said. "I'm definitely ready to be in contention with these top three teams in the division. It could go all the way until the end, so I'm excited for it."

Cleveland Indians, Aaron Cunningham, Brent Lillibridge