CLEVELAND — The Indians didn’t get Kevin Youkilis, but they did get the player the White Sox traded to acquire him — infielder/outfielder Brent Lillibridge.
Lillibridge, who was part of the deal that sent Youkilis to Chicago, is headed to Cleveland after being acquired Tuesday for minor league pitcher Jose De La Torre.
Lillibridge, 28, has spent parts of five seasons in the majors, filling a number of roles off the bench.
“Versatility, man,” said manager Manny Acta, when asked what attracted the Indians to Lillibridge. “He’s a guy we’ve seen in our division the last couple years. He can play the outfield. He can play the infield. He can run. It’s a guy we welcome here, because it’s going to give us an opportunity to give (shortstop) Asdrubal Cabrera, and probably (second baseman Jason) Kipnis at times, some rest.
“He’s a proven versatile utility infielder that we welcome here.”
Though Lillibridge bats right-handed, Acta cautioned that the Indians did not bring the career .212 hitter aboard to shore up its offense.
“He has hit in the past, but we’re not bringing him here to help our lineup,” Acta said. “He’s just going to be a backup guy for us.”
Acta said most of Lillibridge’s time will be spent as a late-game defensive replacement in left field. That’s bad news for Aaron Cunningham, the player that has filled that role this season and is expected to lose his roster spot when Lillibridge is officially added today.
Cunningham is out of minor league options and will have to clear waivers before accepting a Triple-A assignment.
Lillibridge has spent the majority of his career with the White Sox, batting .258 with 13 home runs and 29 RBIs in 97 games last year. He is hitting a combined .165 without a homer and just two RBIs in 59 games with Chicago and Boston this season.
De La Torre, who was signed as a minor league free agent this offseason, is 7-1 with a 2.80 ERA in 27 appearances (one start) for Double-A Akron this year.
Though it appeared reliever Rafael Perez (strained left lat) was on the verge of being activated from the disabled list, Acta said the left-hander’s rehab assignment would continue.
Perez tossed two scoreless innings and allowed just a hit for Akron on Monday. He has made three scoreless rehab appearances for the Aeros covering four innings.
Acta said Perez, who has not pitched since early April, will be evaluated Friday.
The Indians had already set Thursday as the date for Roberto Hernandez’s rehab assignment debut, announcing Tuesday that it would take place at Class A Lake County.
Hernandez is scheduled to go four or five innings without throwing more than 75 pitches. He is expected to pitch every five days until his activation, which general manager Chris Antonetti predicted would take place after three or four rehab outings.
Hernandez is serving a three-week suspension and can not join the Indians until Aug. 11.
The Indians did not take pregame batting practice on the field for the second straight day.
“We had 17 games in a row and we’re trying to take care of the kids and keep them fresh,” Acta said. “We did it yesterday and we won, so we promised them that we’d do it again today.”
If the Indians keep winning, will the trend continue?
“Sounds good to me,” Acta joked.
Akron’s Giovanni Soto was named Cleveland’s minor league player of the week (July 15-22). The left-hander went 1-1 with a 1.29 ERA in two starts, one of them a nine-inning no-hitter July 15.
Soto, acquired in a trade with the Tigers for Jhonny Peralta in 2010, is 6-7 with a 3.72 ERA in 19 starts for the Aeros this season.
Setup man Vinnie Pestano was credited with a hold and closer Chris Perez a save for the 20th time this season, breaking the franchise record set by Paul Assenmacher and closer Mike Jackson (1998). Pestano’s 27 holds leads the majors and is just four shy of the club record set by Rafael Betancourt in 2007. … Shin-Soo Choo entered Tuesday tied for second in the majors with 11 home runs out of the leadoff spot, four behind leader Mike Trout (Angels). … Tonight, 7:05, Channel 3/WTAM 1100-AM. Lowe (8-8, 5.04) vs. Scherzer (9-5, 4.61).
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