CLEVELAND — Center fielder Michael Bourn was officially placed on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday, with the Indians recalling right-hander Corey Kluber from Triple-A Columbus to fill his roster spot.
Manager Terry Francona said he was hopeful that Bourn would be activated on his eligibility date (April 30), but a laceration on his right index finger that required five stitches, is in a concerning area on the inside of the finger.
“It doesn’t make it any easier,” Francona said. “When it’s on that joint line, that kind of makes it a little harder.”
Bourn sustained the injury on a headfirst slide into first base Sunday, with Chicago reliever Matt Thornton stepping on his hand. It’s a taboo move, but Francona has no issue with the headfirst slide — unless it is into home plate.
“If every time somebody got hurt, if you told them not to do it, you wouldn’t be competing,” Francona said. “I told him right after he got hurt, I said, “Bournie, don’t change the way you play. We don’t want to lose guys, but that’s part of how guys get good. Guys are competing and they’re reacting.”
Drew Stubbs is expected to fill in in center for Bourn, who is batting .333 with four doubles, a triple, two home runs and two RBIs in 10 games. Stubbs and left fielder Michael Brantley will likely split the leadoff duties in Bourn’s absence.
Kluber is back for his second stint with Cleveland this season, though he did not appear in a game during his first. The right-hander will pitch out of the bullpen, while giving the Indians another starting option if left-hander Scott Kazmir is unable to make his season debut Saturday.
Kazmir (right rib cage strain) made a rehab appearance for Columbus on Monday.
“We wanted to protect ourselves the best we could,” Francona said. “And because you don’t have a crystal ball, you try to do it where you cover everything. And this was our best way to do it.”
Kluber has made two starts for Columbus, going 1-1 with a 6.57 ERA in two starts.
Jason Kipnis (left elbow soreness) missed his fourth straight game, but he is expected to be back in the lineup for the series opener at Houston on Friday. Francona said Kipnis wanted to play Wednesday.
“Where we are in the season, (left-hander Jon) Lester (pitching for Boston tonight),” Francona said, “I thought if we gave him two more, he has a chance to get back in the lineup and stay in the lineup, rather than come back too early and maybe still feeling it. I think it’s probably the right thing to do.”
Francona said he is not close to considering replacing right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez in the rotation. Jimenez has struggled mightily in two of three starts this season, allowing seven runs on two hits and five walks in the second-shortest outing of his career (1 2/3 innings) Tuesday.
“If we lost our patience with everybody after a few starts, we wouldn’t have a team,” Francona said. “I get the mail and everything, ‘send him down, do this.’ Our job is to make guys better, not every time they struggle, get rid of them. We need to help him get better.
“You’re going to have challenges throughout the season. We knew that coming in. I just think we prefer to tackle them, as opposed to running away from them.”
Jimenez’s problems haven’t been limited to this season. He is 1-2 with an ERA over 7.00 over his last 17 starts dating back to last year — his first full season with the Indians.
“Last year, it’s over,” Francona said. “You can’t pitch for last year. It doesn’t work. It just makes it harder. We need to figure out what he did good and what he didn’t do good. Build on what he did well and fix what he didn’t do well. If you start going back to last August, then he’s got no chance. Nobody’s good enough to go back and fix last year.”
In an effort to stay sharp, Jimenez said he would throw two side sessions between starts, as he did this spring. He is in the final year of his contract with Cleveland, earning $5.75 million this season, with an $8 million option for 2014.
Catcher Lou Marson (neck strain) is expected to begin a rehab assignment with Columbus on Thursday. … A 7-2 loss to the Red Sox on Tuesday accounted for the first time since 1900 that two teams combined to draw at least 15 walks with at least 25 strikeouts in a nine-inning game. … Indians relievers — Cody Allen (six), Nick Hagadone (three), Rich Hill (two) Bryan Shaw (four) recorded 15 strikeouts Tuesday night to set a new single-game franchise record. … Tonight, 7:05, WTAM 1100-AM/WMMS 100.7-FM. McAllister (1-1, 2.19) vs. Lester (2-0, 1.42).
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