HOUSTON -- The Indians added outfield depth to their roster, calling up veteran Melky Cabrera on Sunday. The 33-year-old Cabrera, who signed a Minor League contract with the Indians in late April, was slated to start in right field and bat sixth in the series finale against the Astros at Minute Maid Park.
In a corresponding move, the Indians optioned right-handed reliever Evan Marshall to Triple-A Columbus, and to make room for Cabrera on the club's 40-man roster, right-hander Alexi Ogando was designated for assignment.
The switch-hitting Cabrera spent a little over a week in extended spring training when he first signed before moving to Columbus, where he logged 12 hits in 42 at-bats.
"We've been talking about the need," manager Terry Francona said. "I just think we wanted to give Melky enough time to have a chance to be Melky. I don't think it's fair to anybody, just because you have a need, to call anybody up prematurely. By all accounts, he's done a really good job. He's worked hard. He's got himself in good shape."
The Indians are familiar with Cabrera, a veteran of 13 Major League seasons. He played for two teams in the Indians' division last year, compiling a .285 average with 17 homers and 85 RBIs over 156 games for the White Sox and Royals.
"It'll be nice because now I can finally root for him not to make outs," Francona said.
Cabrera was one of many established big leaguers who found themselves without contracts when Spring Training began. Cabrera said he did not participate in the free-agent camp that was coordinated by the Players Association to help job-seekers get into playing shape.
He finalized a Minor League deal with the Indians on May 1.
"It was a little bit weird at that time, because I'm so used to having a contract in place and being ready for Spring Training," Cabrera said through interpreter William Clements. "I was able to keep working, just as I always would, throughout that time. I'm thankful the Indians have given me the opportunity."
Because of injuries, the Indians are lacking depth in their outfield. Tyler Naquin has been on the disabled list since May 12 with a left hamstring strain, while Bradley Zimmer has been sidelined more than a week with a left rib contusion. Lonnie Chisenhall, out since early April with a right calf strain, is beginning a rehab assignment on Monday.
"One day at a time," Francona said. "We don't know exactly when guys are coming back. We'll see how it goes."
A stiff back prevented lefty reliever Andrew Miller from pitching on Saturday, but he felt confident he would be available for the Tribe's series finale with Houston Sunday.
Miller didn't pitch, but Francona said after the Indians' 3-1 loss that had they tied the game or moved ahead, he would have called on the left-hander.
Francona consulted pitching coach Carl Willis before the game to get his recommendation on how to handle Miller.
"I said, 'Would it be better for him to pitch, or not?'" Francona said. "He said, 'Probably not, unless we had a chance to win.' We stayed away."
Hours before first pitch, Miller threw on the side and felt no lingering issues from the back stiffness that sidelined him on Saturday.
"I'm not really worried about it," he said. "Maybe try to sit with better posture."