December 18, 2014

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Indians notes: Zach McAllister back; Josh Outman out

Zach McAllister

Zach McAllister

CLEVELAND — The Indians activated Zach McAllister from the disabled list Wednesday, designating left-handed reliever Josh Outman for assignment.

McAllister, who has been sidelined since May 22 with a lower-back strain, was expected to be added to the 25-man roster today, but with Cleveland’s bullpen taxed, he was activated in case he was needed in relief Wednesday.

It didn’t end up mattering, however, since the game was rained out.

“If something fluky happens, we protect ourselves without making four moves,” manager Terry Francona said prior to the rainout.

With the emergence of left-hander Kyle Crockett (1.29 over six games), Outman had become obsolete. The Indians already have another situational left-hander — Marc Rzepczysnki — in the bullpen. They didn’t need three.

“We think Crockett’s good and we intend to use him in leverage situations with Zep, so that kind of changed Outman’s role,” Francona said.

Outman (4-0, 3.28 ERA, 16 walks in 31 games) might have been able to keep his job had he performed better against right-handed hitters. Righties hit .295 (13-for-44) off him, while lefties were at .180 (9-for-50).

Outman, 29, was acquired in an offseason trade with the Rockies for outfielder Drew Stubbs. He avoided arbitration by a signing a one-year contract worth $1.25 million on Jan. 15. He could rejoin the organization should he clear waivers and accept an assignment with Triple-A Columbus.

McAllister has made three minor league rehab appearances. He began the season 3-0 with a 2.28 ERA in his first four starts, but has struggled since, going 3-4 with a 5.89 ERA in 10 starts overall.

Central shakeup

It’s been a tight Central Division race for much of the first two-plus months of the season — the first-place Royals led the second-place Tigers by a half game, and the Indians by three games through Tuesday. Still, Francona isn’t willing to predict it will stay that way.

“There’s so many ups and downs that you don’t know. It’s a long year,” he said. “I will say this, I think the Royals are good. They’re a very tough team to play. They have good starting pitching, they have a very good bullpen, they have a very good lineup, they’re athletic, they catch the ball and they run. That pretty much sums it up.”

Kansas City’s rotation entered Wednesday ranked fifth in the American League with a 3.77 ERA, while the Royals’ bullpen was sixth at 3.69. KC’s .262 team batting average ranked fourth in the AL.

Minor details

  • Double-A Akron’s Tyler Naquin saw his hitting streak come to an end at 17 games Tuesday. During the streak, Cleveland’s first-round draft pick in 2012 hit .431 with seven extra-base hits, eight RBIs and 16 runs.
  • Columbus’ Vinnie Pestano entered Wednesday having pitched 13 consecutive scoreless innings since May 18. Pestano was 2-3 with a 1.78 ERA and six saves in 25 games for the Clippers.

Roundin’ third

  • At 25-19 through Tuesday, the Indians had posted the majors’ fifth-best record since May 1.
  • Cleveland first base coach Sandy Alomar turned 48 Wednesday.

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

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