Guyer could see more time in center for Indians

Veteran started in place of Martin on Wednesday; Miller's velo down, but Francona not worried

August 8th, 2018

CLEVELAND -- The last time appeared in center field for a Major League team, the outfielder had yet to wear a Cleveland Indians jersey.

The date was July 20, 2016, and Guyer finished 1-for-3 with two walks and a pair of runs for the Tampa Bay Rays, who traded him to the Tribe just 11 days later. Guyer was put in center by manager Terry Francona on Wednesday to give usual starter the day off as he recovers from illness.

If Francona likes what he sees, it could benefit Guyer with playing time the rest of the regular season. Apart from Martin and , the Tribe are without a third center fielder, as , and are all injured.

"I just thought tonight might not be a bad night to do it," Francona said of Guyer's regular-season center-field debut with Cleveland. "It'd be good for him. It'd be really good for our team. And I want to see how it looks. It may open up something for us where we pinch-hit. It might just give us another alternative. And I just thought tonight was a good night to do it."

In parts of five seasons with the Rays, Guyer played 52 games in center, starting 36, but he has only appeared at the position for the Tribe in Spring Training. Professionally, Guyer has played 340 innings in center with -4 defensive runs saved. Guyer said he also appeared in center during a Minor League rehab start earlier this season.

"I feel like I played pretty good around there when I was with Tampa," Guyer said. "So I should be all right there. … Lately I've been taking some balls in BP and everything, just to get the reads."

The start marked the third in a row for the right-handed-hitting Guyer, and the fourth consecutive game he's played in -- a span in which he's hit 2-for-8 with a home run and two RBIs. Since being activated off the disabled list on June 14, he's hitting .283 (15-for-53) in 34 games.

Though Guyer has been appeared against left-handed pitching as a platoon option with of late, he said he's happy to contribute in any way.

"Any chance I get to play, I'm happy," Guyer said. "If that's a start, coming in to pinch-hit, run, play defense -- if it helps the team win, then I'm happy. If I get a start, cool. Great. I just want to play. So I'll definitely take it."

Worth noting

• Left-hander 's fastball velocity has been down since he returned from the disabled list Thursday after battling right-knee inflammation. Per Statcast™, Miller has averaged 91.8 mph through his first three appearances off the DL, a drop from his 93.1-mph average over the first two months and down from his 94.1-mph average in 2017. Francona believes the issue is mostly related to Miller still working to find consistency and complete trust in his mechanics.

"He's healthy [and] with that comes confidence, conviction, letting the ball go," Francona said. "It'll come. It may come in one pitch. It may come in one outing. It might not. But it'll come. That's the idea. We've all seen what he can do, so we need to be invested in getting him there. And we will."

• Due to the late nature of Tuesday's two-hour, 53-minute game, which didn't start until 9:20 p.m. ET thanks to a two-plus-hour rain delay, Francona pushed the Indians' pregame work (batting practice, infield, etc.) back for Wednesday. The manager felt it was a good opportunity to give his players a mental and physical break.

"That's where the trust comes in," Francona said. "You trust that they'll be ready to play the game. … Just try to give them the best chance, knowing that you're not sacrificing the game. That's the biggest thing."

• Right-hander Zach McAllister was designated for assignment Friday, after the Indians activated Miller and needed to clear a spot on both the active and 40-man rosters. McAllister, who's been part of Cleveland's bullpen for parts of the past eight seasons, was released Wednesday.

• The Indians activated right-hander reliever from the 10-day disabled list on Wednesday and optioned him to Triple-A Columbus.