The slumping slugger who carried Cleveland’s offense through the majority of the first month of the season was designated for assignment prior to the series finale with Detroit. The Indians promoted relief pitcher Preston Guilmet from Triple-A Columbus to take Reynolds’ roster spot.
Reynolds, signed in the offseason to a one-year, $6 million contract, hit .301 with eight home runs and 22 RBIs in April, but slumped to .187 with seven homers, 26 RBIs and 101 strikeouts since. Overall, Reynolds is batting .215 with a team-leading 15 homers, 48 RBIs and 123 strikeouts in 99 games.
“It was getting harder and harder to find at-bats so he could get hot,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. “And I think it was becoming harder for Mark to handle not playing, so it was time to do what we did.
“We knew when we got him he wasn’t a .300 hitter and he was hitting .300 and basically hitting everything in sight (in April). The pitches he was hitting in April, he was either missing or fouling it and striking out. From that point to here, it’s been pretty rough.”
Cleveland has 10 days to either trade, release or place Reynolds on waivers. If he clears waivers, Reynolds has already told the Indians he will not play at Triple-A. Francona said Reynolds did not ask to be traded.
Guilmet’s addition means Cleveland’s bullpen houses eight pitchers, an approach Francona plans on sticking with for a while.
“From where we sit today, we think we’re a better team with an eight-man bullpen,” he said.
Francona will keep Asdrubal Cabrera in the cleanup spot despite the shortstop’s struggles. Cabrera, a career .279 hitter, was batting just .240 with eight homers and 41 RBIs in 89 games through Wednesday. He hit cleanup in 15 of the last 16 games entering Thursday, batting .210 with a homer and seven RBIs over the span.
“He’s going to get hot and I’d like to get the most out of it and keep him where he is,” Francona said. “To be bluntly honest, if he doesn’t get hot, we might not be good enough. I’m not trying to put that all on him, but I just think at the moment, we’re better staying put.
“I think there’s been times when he goes up there and almost predetermines when he’s going to swing. It seems like when there’s runners in scoring position he’s gotten a little antsy, a little overaggressive.”
Cabrera entered Thursday hitting .204 (19-for-93) with runners in scoring position.
Sign ‘em up
The Indians will most likely look to re-sign left-hander Scott Kazmir when he becomes a free agent at the end of the season, if not before. Kazmir is 7-4 with a 3.89 ERA in 20 starts.
“There’s a lot of guys are on our roster that are potential free agents at the end of the year,” Indians general manager Chris Antonetti said. “I don’t want to comment on one particular player.
“What I can say about Scott is how much we appreciate what he’s done for the team this year. He’s re-established himself as not only a major league pitcher, but a real successful one.”
Reliever Vinnie Pestano entered Thursday having not allowed a run or hit with four strikeouts in three appearances for Columbus since being demoted.
“He’s done OK,” Francona said. “To his credit, he’s gone down there with a really good attitude, because it’s not easy. This guy was the guy for two years. Now all of the sudden you’re sending him to Triple-A. It’s not fun for him, it’s not fun for me, but I think he’s handled it pretty well.”
Right-hander Josh Tomlin, a bullpen or rotation option down the stretch, pitched two scoreless innings, allowing a hit and striking out one in a rehab start for Double-A Akron on Wednesday.
Tomlin is scheduled to pitch again Sunday — three innings or 50 pitches — for one of Cleveland’s minor league affiliates.
The Indians wrap up the homestand with a three-game series against the Angels that begins tonight at 7:05.
Kazmir (7-4, 3.89 ERA) opens the set, opposing RHP Jered Weaver (6-5, 2.90), while Ubaldo Jimenez (8-6, 4.18) goes for Cleveland on Saturday (7:05 p.m.) against LHP C.J. Wilson (11-6, 3.49).
Justin Masterson (13-8, 3.46) starts the series finale Sunday (1:05 p.m.), while Los Angeles counters with RHP Jerome Williams (5-8, 4.77).
The Indians are 16-4 against AL West opponents, but have yet to play the Angels.
Danny Salazar’s 17 strikeouts over two outings are the most by an Indians pitcher in the first two starts of his career since Luis Tiant fanned 17 in 1964. … Victor Martinez has made the Indians pay since trading him during the 2009 season. Martinez entered Thursday night batting .366 with five homers, 16 doubles and 34 RBIs in 42 games against Cleveland — .379 with a homer, five doubles and nine RBIs this year. … Tonight, 7:05, STO/WTAM 1100-AM/WMMS 100.7-FM.
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @CAwesomeheimer.