December 21, 2014

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Indians notes: Zach McAllister set to rejoin rotation

Zach McAllister

Zach McAllister

CLEVELAND — The path is clear for Zach McAllister’s return to the rotation.

Left-hander T.J. House was optioned back to Triple-A Columbus on Monday, with right-handed reliever Mark Lowe taking his place on the 25-man roster.

House — 0-1 with a 4.88 ERA in six games (five starts) — was filling in for McAllister (3-4, 5.89 ERA in 10 starts), who is expected to be activated from the disabled list Thursday to start the series finale against the Angels.

McAllister has been sidelined since May 21 with a lower-back strain, but he’s made three minor league rehab appearances, posting a 1.80 ERA over 10 innings in his last two outings for Columbus.

“He’s in a pretty good spot,” manager Terry Francona said of McAllister, who started the season 3-0 with a 2.28 ERA over his first four starts, but surrendered at least four runs in five of his next six outings before being placed on the injured list.

The move came earlier than Thursday because the Indians felt as though they needed bullpen protection after a 12-inning win over the Red Sox on Sunday.

Francona said House impressed him.

“What stood out was his poise,” Francona said. “He’s going to be a contact pitcher for the most part. When there started to be traffic on the bases, he could get a ground-ball double play by design.

“He was throwing the ball, he was attacking the zone, he wasn’t letting the game speed up. There were a lot of positives to take from what he did. We’re very pleased with how he pitched.”

Smooth operator

Left fielder Michael Brantley was named American League player of the week (June 9-15), batting .538 (14-for-26) with three doubles, two home runs, three RBIs and nine runs, while hitting in seven straight games over the span.

Brantley, who entered Monday batting .322 (fourth in AL) with 11 homers and 45 RBIs (ninth in AL) in 68 games, remained seventh in the latest AL All-Star fan voting results.

Hall of a person

Cleveland pitcher Justin Masterson has fond memories of Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, who died Monday at the age of 54. Masterson played one season (2006) at San Diego State University for Gwynn, who attended SDSU and had been the Aztecs’ baseball coach since 2003.

“It was the most incredible thing to be able to play for him for a year,” Masterson said. “A lot of times when people are really good at something, they gain an arrogance. What I took the most from San Diego State is he taught me how to be a professional. The way he treated people was like no other.

“He was great at baseball and all that type of stuff. You guys know me, it makes more of a difference how you are away from the field and how you treat people, but he also did a lot of great things for baseball.”

Sign ’em up

The Indians agreed to terms with one of their two first-round draft picks, Justus Sheffield (31st overall), a left-handed pitcher out of Tullahoma High School (Tenn.). Sheffield, who signed a letter of intent to attend Vanderbilt University, was named the Gatorade High School Player of the Year this season after posting a 10-0 record and 0.34 ERA (three earned runs) and striking out 131 batters over 61 2/3 innings.

Cleveland has signed 18 of its 42 draft picks, but not top selection (21st overall) — Bradley Zimmer, an outfielder from the University of San Francisco.

Minor details

Right-hander Danny Salazar (right elbow inflammation) pitched for the first time since May 30 on Sunday, allowing two earned runs on four hits, while striking out four over five innings of Columbus’  11-3 win over Scranton.

“All reports were very, very positive,” Francona said.

Salazar is 1-3 with a 6.11 ERA in four starts since being demoted to the minors.

Roundin’ third

  • At 24-18 (.571) entering Monday, the Indians owned the majors’ fourth-best record since May 1.
  • Cavaliers star Kyrie Irving took pregame batting practice with the Indians and threw out the first pitch, going high socks with his Tribe uniform that included a No. 2 jersey. Cavs teammates Dion Waiters and Matthew Dellavedova and general manager David Griffin were also in attendance.
  • Tonight, 7:05, STO; WEOL 930-AM, WTAM 1100-AM, WMMS 100.7-FM. Tomlin (4-3, 3.33) vs. Shoemaker (3-1, 4.19).

Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him @CAwesomeheimer on Twitter.

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