CLEVELAND — Pitcher Josh Tomlin is headed back to the big leagues, while second baseman Elliot Johnson is no longer a member of the Indians.
Tribe manager Terry Francona announced a flurry of roster moves Saturday, topped by the news that right-hander Tomlin will be recalled from Triple-A Columbus and Johnson had been designated for assignment.
Cleveland also placed catcher Yan Gomes on the three-day paternity list, and promoted catcher George Kottaras and left-handed pitcher Nick Hagadone from the Clippers. Hagadone is expected to be sent back to the minors Tuesday, when Tomlin will officially be recalled and start against Minnesota.
“Josh’s last two outings have been really good and it’s his scheduled day to pitch, so we told him today that he’s coming up,” Francona said prior to Saturday’s game against the White Sox. “He pitched so well in spring training that we knew he’d help us win games this season.
“Really, there were several guys (also Trevor Bauer and T.J. House) pitching well, which is great for us, but Josh has earned this opportunity.”
Tomlin is 2-1 with a 2.06 ERA in five starts for Columbus, including a three-hit, 10-strikeout shutout Thursday at Durham. The 29-year-old has made only one MLB appearance since undergoing reconstructive right elbow surgery on Aug. 22, 2012.
Johnson committed two errors Friday in the Tribe’s 12-5 win over Chicago, dropping a pair of throws that should have started double plays. The career utilityman hit .105 without a walk or RBI in seven games.
“First of all, last night had nothing to do with it,” Francona said. “We knew at some point that we might not be able to keep Elliot. Because we needed a starter on Tuesday, we just decided to make the move three days early.”
Gomes and his wife, Jenna, became parents for the first time early Saturday when their daughter, Brooklyn Mae, was born at a local hospital. The baby’s grandfather — and Jenna’s dad — is former Giants pitcher Atlee Hammaker.
“Gomer was hustling out of here last night, and I know he’ll have his hands full for a couple of days,” Francona said. “I just told him to text me how things are going, which he kind of did this morning.”
With Gomes unavailable, converted third baseman Carlos Santana has moved back behind the plate. Journeyman Kottaras, who hit .080 in 25 at-bats for Columbus, will serve as his backup.
Francona said Santana will return to third base and Kottaras will be returned to the Clippers as soon as Gomes rejoins the squad.
“We told George that this is a temporary situation, but you never know what could happen with injuries or whatnot,” Francona said.
Cleveland’s nine-man bullpen also is temporary, but offers the 28-year-old Hagadone a small window to impress the team’s decision makers. This is his 10th stint with the Indians since 2011, but he has never lived up to his potential with a 5.59 ERA in 72 appearances.
“Hagadone is here to fortify our bullpen until Tomlin has to be added to the roster,” Francona said. “It can’t hurt, ever, to have an extra arm, but it’s only for three days.”
Jose Ramirez got the nod at second base, one day after being recalled from the Clippers, but Francona said Mike Aviles also will see action there.
Starting second baseman Jason Kipnis was placed on the disabled list Friday with a strained right oblique. The 2013 All-Star is expected to be sidelined until early June.
** Designated hitter Jason Giambi was in the lineup for the third time since coming off the DL on April 21. “G” went 0-for-8 in his first two regular-season games after going 0-for-4 during spring training.
** Right-hander Chen-Chang Lee has a 4.50 ERA in nine relief appearances, but the Indians remain high on his long-term future.
“C.C. has borderline electric stuff from that arm slot,” Francona said. “He just needs experience, but he’s going to be a really good major league reliever.”
The 27-year-old Taiwanese national has not allowed any of his eight inherited runners to score and is holding foes to a .156 average with runners on base.
** Center fielder Michael Bourn has only two stolen bases in five tries this season, but has swiped an MLB-high 283 bags over the last seven years. Tigers left fielder Rajai Davis is second with 253.
White Sox center fielder Adam Eaton — a Springfield native — strained his right hamstring while hitting into a double play Friday and was placed on the 15-day disabled list Saturday.
Adding insult to injury, Eaton and his wife invited their families to attend the entire three-game series.
“This isn’t the way I had hoped things would work out,” he said.
Eaton went 0-for-3 against Indians right-hander Danny Salazar in the series opener, but said he was equally impressed with Gomes during Chicago’s 12-5 loss.
“Salazar throws 95 with a good splitty, so he’s got great stuff,” he said. “But the guy behind the dish is also pretty good at putting up the right finger.”
- The Tribe is the only MLB team without an extra-inning game this season. The Dodgers have played a league-high seven.
- Cleveland closer John Axford was tied with Baltimore’s Tommy Hunter for tops in the American League with eight saves entering Saturday.
- The Indians’ 4-11 road record is the worst in the AL, but Miami is 2-10 in the National League.
Contact Brian Dulik at firstname.lastname@example.org.