Indians recall versatile Diaz to boost lineup

Reliever Armstrong optioned to Triple-A in corresponding move

May 8th, 2017

TORONTO -- has been on an offensive tear since being sent back to Triple-A Columbus late last month. Now the rookie's work is being rewarded once again by the Indians, who were in need of some lineup protection for the series in Toronto.

Prior to Monday's game against the Blue Jays, Diaz was recalled from Columbus and reliever was optioned back to the same affiliate. The move comes after left fielder sustained a sprained right ankle during Sunday's 1-0 win over the Royals.

"We were calling him up anyway," Indians manager Terry Francona said of Diaz. "Now, with Brantley down, it does really help us, because it's a guy that -- you don't have a crystal ball -- but you don't need to platoon him. He's a pretty good hitter."

While Brantley works his way back from the ankle issue -- not serious enough to warrant a trip to the disabled list at the moment -- Diaz can offer insurance for left field. Francona said the Indians will figure out how to handle Diaz's playing time upon Brantley's return. The manager suggested that (typically a first baseman or designated hitter) could even see some time in right field to open up DH at-bats.

"Brantley's certainly going to play left field," Francona said. "But having the hitter, I think we felt like it would help us."

Diaz began this season as Cleveland's third baseman, while second baseman was on the 10-day DL and filled in at second. Upon Kipnis' return on April 21, Ramirez returned to third and Diaz was optioned back to Triple-A, where he garnered innings at multiple positions.

With Columbus, Diaz started five games at third base, four games in left field and two in right.

The 25-year-old Diaz hit .395 with a 1.067 OPS in 12 games (43 at-bats) for Columbus, drawing 11 walks and striking out only four times. Diaz also had a 26.3 percent fly-ball rate in the Minors, showing improvement over his limited Major League sample. In 15 big league games this year, Diaz hit .236 with a .550 OPS and a 9.5 percent fly-ball rate.

Brantley sprained his ankle in the third inning on Sunday while running to first base, and he was pulled from the game an inning later. Francona said Monday that Brantley, who was wearing a protective boot to take some weight off his foot, should not be out long, but the left fielder might not play during the current series in Toronto.

Kluber heads back to Cleveland

Indians ace (placed on the DL on Wednesday with a lower-back strain) was scheduled to fly back to Cleveland on Monday to continue his rehab ahead of the team's upcoming homestand, which begins Friday. Francona noted that Kluber was not ready to resume his five-day throwing program, so the team did not feel it made sense to keep him in Toronto.