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Tomlin understands, embraces move to bullpen

Indians righty 'happy' to join 'good group'; Plutko to be called up for start
MLB.com @MLBastian

CHICAGO -- Josh Tomlin was not surprised when Indians manager Terry Francona decided it was time to move the pitcher to the bullpen. Tomlin was given nearly two months of the season to regain his footing on the mound, and the starter's struggles persisted throughout his series of adjustments.

Now, Tomlin will embrace his relief role while continuing to get back on track.

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CHICAGO -- Josh Tomlin was not surprised when Indians manager Terry Francona decided it was time to move the pitcher to the bullpen. Tomlin was given nearly two months of the season to regain his footing on the mound, and the starter's struggles persisted throughout his series of adjustments.

Now, Tomlin will embrace his relief role while continuing to get back on track.

View Full Game Coverage

"I understand the poor performance in the rotation merits going to the bullpen," Tomlin said on Tuesday at Wrigley Field. "We've got a good group down there. I'm happy to be a part of it and happy to do whatever I can to help this team win. Whatever the best situation is right now for me to pitch in to help this team win, that's what it's about, and I'm all for that."

Tomlin was inserted in the ninth inning of the Indians' 10-1 win over the Cubs on Tuesday and gave up a leadoff home run to Ian Happ, his 16th homer allowed this season, before setting down the next three batters with a flyout, strikeout and groundout, respectively, to end the game.

Heading into Tuesday, Tomlin was 0-4 with a 7.84 ERA in seven appearances, including six starts. The right-hander had logged 31 innings, in which he allowed 29 runs (27 earned) on 46 hits. Both Tomlin and pitching coach Carl Willis felt there was progress within the righty's past two outings, but not enough to stop Cleveland from switching things up at the back end of the starting staff.

Right-hander Adam Plutko is scheduled to come up from Triple-A Columbus to start for the Indians against the Cubs on Wednesday, and he will assume Tomlin's place in the rotation. In seven starts this season for the Clippers, Plutko has posted a 2.25 ERA with 35 strikeouts against nine walks in 44 innings. He also made a spot start for the Tribe in Game 2 of a doubleheader against Toronto on May 3, allowing three runs over 7 1/3 innings for his first Major League victory.

Video: TOR@CLE: Plutko K's 6, gets the win in his 1st start

"We're excited about it," Willis said of getting a more extended look at Plutko. "He really picked us up [during the doubleheader]. Obviously, he was aware of where we were at that particular point with the bullpen and everything else. And to go out and command the baseball like he did, I guess speaks more than anything else of the mental toughness.

"I think that's, a lot of times, the first hurdle a young pitcher has to get over at the Major League level. I think he certainly showed us enough and has earned another opportunity to show us what he can do."

Worth noting

• Center fielder Bradley Zimmer (10-day disabled list, left rib contusion) resumed regular batting practice with the Indians on Tuesday in Chicago. Francona noted that Zimmer appears on target for a return to games by the weekend, though it is undetermined whether the outfielder will need a Minor League rehab assignment.

"He probably needs it," said Francona. "But, depending where we're at -- we'll see. It would probably serve him well, but we'll see."

• This series in Chicago marked the Tribe's first trip to Wrigley Field since the 2016 World Series. Francona did not waste much mental energy thinking about that fact: "We move on pretty quick. I think we even said when that season was over, 'We don't want to be that team that's always talking about 2016.' They're great memories, but we need to move on."

• Right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall (10-day DL, right calf) went 2-for-2 with a double in his first Minor League rehab game with Columbus on Monday. Chisenhall will work out with the Clippers on Tuesday and then will play again with the affiliate on Wednesday, per Francona.

• Without the use of the designated hitter against the Cubs, Edwin Encarnacion was out of the starting lineup for the Indians, who stuck with Yonder Alonso at first base for Tuesday's game. Through 14 games played in May, Encarnacion has hit .304 with four home runs, 15 RBIs and a .942 OPS.

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.

Cleveland Indians, Josh Tomlin