CLEVELAND — The Indians haven’t run out of catchers, but they are already down to their third and fourth options.
Carlos Santana is expected to miss limited time after taking a ball off his left hand Monday, while his backup, Lou Marson, was placed on the disabled list Tuesday with a neck sprain.
To cover itself at the position, Cleveland promoted catchers Yan Gomes and Omir Santos from Triple-A Columbus, delaying the arrival of veteran Jason Giambi, who was expected to be activated Tuesday. Giambi won’t join the club until Santana has mended enough to at least serve as the backup, according to manager Terry Francona.
Gomes will fill in for Santana, while Santos backs him up. The Indians designated right-hander Robert Whitenack for assignment to clear room for Santos on the 40-man roster.
The news concerning Santana was actually positive. After taking a fastball off the hand from closer Chris Perez, some including Santana felt as though his hand was broken.
“We all saw, you know, he got smoked,” Francona said. “He’s got a good bruise and nothing more, so that’s good. If it hit him maybe in the thumb it could have been worse, but we probably caught a break.”
Francona said Santana got crossed up on the pitch, but that Perez wasn’t at fault. Santana said he called for a slider and Perez threw a fastball.
“I missed the sign,” Santana said. “These things happen. It’s very common.”
Santana was off to a big start, batting .500 with two home runs and five RBIs in seven games.
“I feel a little sad because I want to keep playing,” he said. “I’m having a great start and I don’t want to stop. It’s good because I’m going to be here and I can keep playing (soon). Bad is if I can not play for a long time.”
The Indians don’t feel Marson’s injury requires a trip to the DL, but they are uncomfortable with him catching at this point.
So, now Gomes, the first Brazilian-born player to make it to the majors, will handle the fulltime catching duties. He had an impressive spring training with Cleveland (.407, 5 2B, HR, 7 RBIs in 15 games) after being acquired in an offseason trade with Toronto.
“The more we saw of him, the more we liked what we saw,” Francona said. “There’s obviously enough comfort there where something happens we feel comfortable enough to throw him in there and start a game.
“Santana is off to a great start. Hopefully, it’s just a couple days. But in the meantime we get to get a little bit of a look at Gomes.”
It’s going to take more than one poor start for Francona to start thinking about other rotation options than right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez, who allowed seven runs over just 4 1/3 innings Monday.
“(We’re going to be) a lot more patient than one bad start,” Francona said. “That would be a horrible mistake on our part. He was flying open a lot (Monday). The direction to the plate wasn’t very good. It gave the left-handers a good look at the ball and it took away some of his deception and some of his crispness.
“We’ve got some work to do on the side day, but we don’t ever want to run from our guys. We want to make them better.”
Jimenez’s fastball was in the 94-95 mph range during his debut last Wednesday in Toronto, but his velocity was down the next time around and he resembled the ineffective pitcher he’s been since joining the Indians.
Francona is willing to live with the strikeouts where designated hitter Mark Reynolds is concerned. Reynolds has led the league in strikeouts four times in his five full big league seasons, but he’s also averaged just over 34 home runs per season over the five-year span.
“In Mark’s case there’s gonna be games where it’s miss, miss, miss, bang,” Francona said. “If you pull the plug and get impatient, you’re going to miss the bang. So you just got to sit there and be patient, because I don’t know that you can see it coming. Be patient and let him get his hacks.”
The Indians entered Tuesday owning a 9-21 record against the Yankees over the last five years, with their last winning season (4-3) against New York coming in 2008. … Tonight, 7:09, STO/ESPN2/WTAM 1100-AM. Myers (0-1, 12.60) vs. Nova (0-1, 7.71).
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