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Reynolds' departure opens room for Gomes to play

CLEVELAND -- The Indians have been looking for a way to get young catcher Yan Gomes into the starting lineup more often. Thursday's decision to designate Mark Reynolds for assignment has provided Cleveland with that chance.

Without Reynolds in the fold, the Indians have given an increasing number of at-bats to utlility man Ryan Raburn and Gomes. With catcher Carlos Santana's ability to handle first base and designated hitter -- two roles Reynolds filled in his time with the Tribe -- Gomes has garnered more time behind the plate.

"We were looking to get Gomes more playing time," Indians manager Terry Francona said, "because of the way he's played. And Raburn, his production made it increasingly hard to get Reynolds in the lineup."

Gomes, 26, opened the season with Triple-A Columbus, but an early-season injury to backup catcher Lou Marson created an oppportunity for the prospect. Through 50 games this season, Gomes has hit .303 with eight home runs and 28 RBIs for the Indians.

Entering Saturday's game against the Angels, Gomes led Major League catchers (with at least 150 plate appearances) in slugging percentage (.527) and was third in OPS (.872), trailing only Atlanta's Brian McCann and San Francisco's Buster Posey. Gomes also led the Majors with a 54.2 caught-stealing percentage.

"Gomes' development has been incredible," Francona said. "Doing it at the Major League level, it's not an easy thing to do. It's so nice to feel like you don't have to catch Carlos. We can DH him a couple days in a row. Not a lot of teams can do that. You can go a day, but sometimes we've been going two, or sometimes three out of four.

"That should keep a lot of gas in [Santana's] tank throughout the season, because catchers get beat up. You saw [Tigers catcher Alex] Avila the other day. He just kept getting those foul tips, man. He looked like he'd been run over by a truck."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian.
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