Following injury problems, Indians release Myers
Veteran righty was expected to be club's No. 3 starter before elbow issues
ATLANTA -- The Brett Myers experiment has come to an end.
Prior to Thursday night's series finale against the Braves, the Indians released Myers from his contract after activating him from the 60-day disabled list. The veteran pitcher was signed to serve as the club's third starter this season, but persistent right elbow problems quickly killed that hope.
The Indians attempted to have Myers return as a relief pitcher -- his role last season during stints with the Astros and White Sox -- but it became increasingly clear that there was not going to be a spot in the bullpen. Thursday's release seemed to be the inevitable conclusion to a disappointing season for Myers.
"I called Brett and told him thanks. He tried hard," manager Terry Francona said. "His elbow acted up and there's a lot of wear and tear. He tried hard to come back. He could've gone home at any time and we would've never questioned it, but he kept plugging away."
Francona praised general manager Chris Antonetti for making the decision at this point in the season, allowing Myers to seek a job elsewhere as a free agent prior to Major League rosters expanding to 40 players on Sunday.
"This is where, to me, Chris is one of the best," Francona said. "He gave him a chance to let go now before September, where maybe he can find a spot in the big leagues as opposed to maybe waiting until after teams call people up. I think that shows a lot of class on Chris' part."
Cleveland inked Myers to a one-year, $7 million contract on Jan. 4 and included a team option worth $8 million for the 2014 season. That '14 option could have vested had Myers logged 200 innings, but his right elbow injury in April took that possibility off the table.
In four appearances -- his last on April 19 -- the 33-year-old Myers went 0-3 with an 8.02 ERA. Over 21 1/3 innings, the right-hander allowed 19 earned runs on 29 hits, including 10 home runs, and finished with 12 strikeouts and five walks.
Across seven Minor League games this season, Myers posted a 3.09 ERA in 11 2/3 innings, but he experienced a handful of setbacks along the way.
Myers has gone 97-96 with a 4.25 ERA in 381 games (252 starts) in parts of 12 Major League seasons with the Phillies, Astros, White Sox and Indians.
"He was getting antsy, because he felt like he was getting ready to help us," Francona said. "Because he had such a long layoff, we wanted to see him pitch some more."
Tribe opts for Aviles over slumping Chisenhall
ATLANTA -- The lineup card hanging on a door inside the visitors' clubhouse on Thursday had Mike Aviles' name penciled in as the Indians' third baseman and No. 8 hitter. Even with a right-hander on the mound for the Braves, Lonnie Chisenhall understood the decision.
"He's been swinging the bat well," Chisenhall said. "He's starting today and he deserves to start right now. I'm not playing well and he is. If you look at it, he gives us the best chance to win right now. I'm going through some stuff offensively."
Over the past couple of months, manager Terry Francona has done what he could to split up the playing time at third between Aviles and Chisenhall. For the most part, Aviles has started against lefties -- as he did in the first two games at Turner Field -- and Chisenhall has been given the nod against righties.
Francona said starting Aviles three games in a row did not mean he was now the full-timer at the hot corner.
"No, no," Francona said. "Lonnie will play."
As evidenced by his honesty on Thursday, Chisenhall is the first to admit that he has underperformed this season. The 24-year-old third baseman believes he has made adjustments to his swing to a fault, focused too much on trying to cut down his strikeouts and has gotten away from the kind of aggressiveness with fastballs that led to past success.
Through 77 games, Chisenhall is hitting .216 overall with seven home runs, 28 RBIs and a .617 on-base plus slugging percentage. Heading into Thursday's game, he was batting only .086 (3-for-35) against left-handed pitchers and just .127 (7-for-55) overall in August.
"This has been a tough year for me in general," Chisenhall said. "I haven't found something that's really helped me yet. I keep working. I'm getting here early with [hitting coach Ty Van Burkleo]. I'm using video. I'm using all of our coaches. I've tried everything. Every avenue, I'm working on it. It's just been a tough year -- probably the worst of my career."
In a 27-game stint at Triple-A Columbus earlier this season, Chisenhall flashed his potential, hitting .390 with 16 extra-base hits and 26 RBIs before being called back to the big leagues in mid-June.
"You see him go to Triple-A and hit .390, so we know it's in there," Francona said. "And we do, we believe it's in there. But when you come to the big leagues, you deal with so much: advanced reports, sometimes sitting, specialty pitchers, better defenses. Sometimes it adds up to the game not coming as quickly as you want it.
"It'll get there. to his credit, he's working with Ty a lot and he shows glimpses of it. We just want it to be more consistent. It'll get there."
In the eighth inning of Thursday's 3-1 loss to the Braves, Francona called upon Chisenhall as a pinch-hitter for pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez. For at least one at-bat, the third baseman found his swing, connecting on a pitch from reliever David Carpenter for the first pinch-hit home run of his young career.
"Boy, if he can get hot," Francona said. "We're facing three right-handers going into Detroit [this weekend]. If he could get hot, that'd be great."
Indians plan to expand their roster in waves
ATLANTA -- Only three days remain until Major League teams can expand the active rosters, but the Indians are not ready to officially unveil any of their planned promotions.
On Thursday, manager Terry Francona said the team has an assortment of players in mind for Sunday's roster expansion to a maximum of 40 players. Cleveland will likely call up a handful of players on Sunday and then follow with more promotions by next Wednesday or Thursday.
"We're going to call up guys in two different waves," Francona said. "For obvious reasons, we're not going to say it yet, because everybody doesn't know."
Francona did note that the Indians are leaning toward calling up three pitchers, one infielder and a catcher on Sunday, when the team will be wrapping up a three-game road series in Detroit. Next week, more pitchers are likely to be added to the fold. The Indians already added an extra outfielder on Tuesday when the club purchased the contract of Matt Carson from Triple-A Columbus.
Possible position players on the 40-man roster under consideration include shortstop Juan Diaz and outfielder Tim Fedroff. Catcher Lou Marson, who is currently rehabbing a right shoulder injury in Arizona, is not on the 40-man roster due to being on the 60-day disabled list. A few non-roster possibilities include first baseman David Cooper and catchers Roberto Perez and Chris Wallace.
The list of pitchers likely being considered includes right-handers Vinnie Pestano, C.C. Lee, Preston Guilmet, Matt Langwell, Blake Wood, Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin, as well as lefties T.J. House and Nick Hagadone.
Cleveland wants to have plenty of pitching depth with starter Danny Salazar's workload being monitored closely and right-hander Corey Kluber expected back soon from a sprained right middle finger.
"We're going to have a lot of pitchers," Francona said. "We've talked over a lot about what we wanted to do, and because of Danny pitching and Kluber potentially pitching, I think we thought that may be our best way to win."
Quote to note
"I don't believe in that. I've seen it and I don't believe in it. I think that's disrespectful to the players. That's how I feel. You always want to have a reason for where you hit somebody, and I want them to know that I do think about it and I don't take it lightly where they hit."
--Indians manager Terry Francona, on shuffling up a struggling lineup.
• Major League Baseball altered the regular season schedule this season, mixing Interleague games throughout the six-month slate. That can lead to late-season situations where contending American League teams are forced to play without the designated hitter.
"I know the schedule is tricky," Francona said. "I also know that we're coming up on September and we are at a severe disadvantage when you come to a National League team. One is that their pitchers hit. They come out every day and bunt. Ours don't. So you're at a disadvantage.
"Now, saying that, when the Mets come to our place, we should have the advantage. But, I think you're more at a disadvantage than you have an advantage."
• Indians pitcher Justin Masterson said he last hit regularly as a sophomore at Bethel College in 2005, when he was sometimes used as a designated hitter. In his first at-bat in Wednesday night's 3-2 loss, Masterson came through with a single that bounced over the head of Braves third baseman Chris Johnson. Masterson flew out to right field with two runners on base to end the fourth inning.
"It'd feel better in a victory," Masterson said of his single. "It's more exciting when you win the ballgame. When you don't, it's like, 'Well, I guess I did that. That was cool.' The bottom line is we were [0-for-14] with runners in scoring position in the last two games. I was one of those. I was one of those at-bats. I couldn't score the run."
• Francona used the right-handed-hitting Matt Carson as a pinch-hitter for Masterson against Braves righty David Carpenter in the sixth inning on Wednesday. The skipper said he did not want to use lefties Jason Giambi or Lonnie Chisenhall, because Atlanta had lefty Scott Downs warming in the bullpen. Francona also chose not to use Yan Gomes, because he did not want to burn one of his two catchers with three innings to play.
• Minor League right-hander Cody Anderson, the Indians' No. 7 prospect according to MLB.com, was named the Carolina League's Pitcher of the Year on Wednesday for his work with Class A (High) Carolina. Infielders Francisco Lindor and Joe Wendle joined Anderson on the Carolina League's postseason All-Star team. Double-A outfielder Carlos Moncrief and first baseman Jesus Aguilar were named to the Eastern League postseason All-Star team.