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Indians option Diaz to make room for Bieber

Infielder/DH remains next in line for callup after hitting .500 in 4 games with Tribe
MLB.com @MLBastian

CLEVELAND -- Yandy Diaz knew he had a trip back to Triple-A Columbus in his future when the Indians summoned him from the Minor Leagues to start the second half. So, even after Diaz collected hit after hit after hit in his four-game stay, the Tribe optioned him back to the Clippers prior to Tuesday's game against the Pirates.

Right now, Diaz is an option for third base, first base or designated hitter -- spots very much accounted for at the Major League level. Given the circumstances, Indians manager Terry Francona met with Diaz and reiterated to the corner infielder not to get discouraged. Diaz remains on the next-man-up list if something changes at the MLB level.

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CLEVELAND -- Yandy Diaz knew he had a trip back to Triple-A Columbus in his future when the Indians summoned him from the Minor Leagues to start the second half. So, even after Diaz collected hit after hit after hit in his four-game stay, the Tribe optioned him back to the Clippers prior to Tuesday's game against the Pirates.

Right now, Diaz is an option for third base, first base or designated hitter -- spots very much accounted for at the Major League level. Given the circumstances, Indians manager Terry Francona met with Diaz and reiterated to the corner infielder not to get discouraged. Diaz remains on the next-man-up list if something changes at the MLB level.

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"We told him that he's always one pitch or one play away from something happening," Francona said. "So even though there may be a day when you feel like, 'Oh man, I've got [Jose Ramirez in front of me]. I've got this, I've got that.' There's one phone call, then all of a sudden you're playing in the Major Leagues."

Diaz was optioned to clear room on the roster for Tuesday's starter Shane Bieber, who was sent to Columbus to stay on his regular routine over the All-Star break before returning as the fifth starter. In four games with Cleveland, Diaz hit .500 (7-for-14) with a triple and three runs scored. He served as the cleanup hitter on Monday with Edwin Encarnacion getting a day of rest.

Video: CLE@TEX: Diaz notches 4 hits in 1st game of 2018

At Triple-A, Diaz has turned in a .284/.415/.375 slash line with as many walks (63) as strikeouts (63) and 22 extra-base hits. He will continue to get work at first and third base. In theory, it would make sense to run Diaz out to right field in light of Cleveland's needs at the big league level. Francona shot that down as an option right now.

"I don't think he did very well in left field," said Francona, referring to Diaz getting time in the outfield last season. "If you put him in right field, it will be harder. ... I hate to talk our players down ever. I think you'd be asking a lot of him to go play right field."

The Indians are still exploring the market for help in the outfield and could benefit from an upgrade in center field (Bradley Zimmer is out for eight to 12 months after right shoulder surgery) or right (Lonnie Chisenhall's season might be over due to a right calf strain). At the moment, Rajai Davis and Tyler Naquin are splitting time in center, while Brandon Guyer and Melky Cabrera divvy up the innings in right.

A year ago, second baseman Jason Kipnis shifted to center down the stretch, when Diaz helped out at third and Ramirez handled second. The Indians could target players via trade for second or third, if that scenario with Kipnis was still in play. Kipnis entered Tuesday batting .221 (.671 OPS) in 91 games overall, but he had a .271 average and an .848 OPS in his past 43 games.

Video: CLE@TEX: Kipnis smacks an RBI single to center field

Francona was asked Tuesday if moving Kipnis to the outfield was a possibility again this year.

"You never say never, but there's got to be a reason to do it," Francona said. "I know Chris [Antonetti, the Indians' president of baseball operations] sat down with Kip a while back and kind of walked through potentially what could happen, things like that. I thought that was great. There's got to be a compelling reason to do it."

Worth noting
• Also on Tuesday, the Indians claimed outfielder Johnny Field off waivers from the Rays and optioned him to Triple-A Columbus. Field appeared in 62 games for Tampa Bay this season, hitting .213 with a .626 OPS. The right-handed batter posted a .267 average and a .785 OPS vs. lefties. Field played left (23 games), center (13) and right (25) for the Rays.

"[He's] kind of a Guyer-type," Francona said. "Right-handed hitter, can play all three [outfield positions]. He's supposed to be a good kid. But I don't know a ton. We're just trying to -- I hate to use the word 'inventory,' because they're people -- but just trying to get, when you have a chance, a guy that can help you. We'll see where it goes."

Video: TOR@TB: Field makes a leaping grab at the wall in 9th

• In order to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Field's arrival, Cleveland transferred lefty Andrew Miller to the 60-day disabled list from the 10-day DL. It was a paperwork move, given that Miller is still eligible for activation on Wednesday at the earliest. Miller is on a Minor League rehab assignment and, beginning with an appearance for Double-A Akron on Tuesday night, the current plan is to have him pitch every other day this week, leading up to back-to-back outings potentially this weekend.

• The MLB Players Alumni Association announced Tuesday that Jose Ramierez is the Indians' 2018 recipient of the annual Heart and Hustle Award. Said Francona: "If he doesn't win it, nobody wins it, because he embodies that. I mean, he's kind of like [Dustin] Pedroia, where I'm not sure he has any business being as good as he is, yet he is. And he finds ways to keep getting better. And it's not just the numbers. His numbers are fantastic, but he also does little things."

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.

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