Indians Notes: Delino DeShields Jr. collects hit, RBI in debut

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CLEVELAND, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – The Indians activated outfielder Delino DeShields Jr. Thursday and reduced their roster to 28 in advance of Thursday’s MLB deadline to do so.

DeShields tested positive for COVID-19 at the outset of summer camp at the beginning of July.

DeShields, acquired as part of the Corey Kluber trade, started in center field against the Reds. He batted ninth and collected his first hit – a sharp single to right – and RBI when he walked with the bases loaded as part of the 10-run seventh inning to blow open a 13-0 rout of the Reds.

“He brings a speed dynamic to the ballclub that can help tremendously,” acting manager Sandy Alomar Jr. said prior to Thursday’s game.

Making the debut even more special for DeShields was his father, Delino Sr., is Cincinnati’s first base coach and the two took a photo together behind home plate before the game.

The Indians are carrying six outfielders on the roster following Thursday’s moves creat8ng another balancing act for Alomar and the coaching staff.

“The issue is the amount of at-bats we have for everybody,” Alomar said. “With a limited amount of games we have to figure out how we’re going to rotate the outfield.”

Infielder Christian Arroyo was designated for assignment.

Arroyo barely saw the field with the Indians appearing last July 26 in the ninth inning as a defensive replacement at third base.

Outfielders Greg Allen and Daniel Johnson were assigned to the alternate training site at Lake County.

Allen started two games and appeared in six others for the Indians. The 2014 sixth-round pick struck out four times and did not register a hit in nine plate appearances.

Johnson was most recently recalled when Roberto Perez went on the injured list with a sore right shoulder. He collected his first – and so far only – Major League hit in 13 plate appearances July 28 against the White Sox.

“He has a lot of potential. It’s unfortunate that we couldn’t put at-bats together for him,” Alomar said. “When you have a gap of not playing and get thrown into the fire, every player is going to feel pressure to try to perform that day because they feel like that’s the only opportunity they’re going to get and then they’re going to be on the bench and not play for the next five or six days.”

Tito update – Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti’s update on manager Terry Francona was brief Thursday afternoon.

“Tito will not travel with us to Chicago tonight,” Antonetti said. “I’ll have another update for you on Monday.”

Francona underwent tests Monday and Tuesday at the Cleveland Clinic for gastrointestinal discomfort that he had been experiencing since spring training but flared up Sunday in Minnesota prior to the series finale with the Twins.

Closer-in-waiting – Alomar believes James Karinchak has what it takes to close. He just needs some seasoning first.

“He’s in the developing stages to be a closer,” Alomar said prior to Thursday’s game. “He has that repertoire to be a closer. He’s got a great fastball and a great twelve-to-six breaking ball and the more he pitches, the more strikes he’s throwing. He’s becoming a very consistent guy and he should be a closer in the future. He just needs to get experience.

“Karinchak has the swagger to be a closer.”

In six relief appearances, Karinchak has allowed one unearned run, three hits with two walks and 10 strikeouts. He’s 0-1 with a save in 6 1/3rd innings of work.

“Hopefully he stays healthy during his career,” Alomar said. “You have to have confidence and you have to understand that the word closer means, that’s it. That’s the end of the road. Some people can’t do it because they stress out and aren’t able to pitch better in certain situations.

“When you’re the closer up there, all the hard work the team has put in through nine innings, that’s it. So, he has that mentality and he has the swagger to do it, and pitches too.”

Shooting blanks – The Indians pitched their fourth shutout of the season, the most in MLB entering play Thursday and the most by the franchise 14 games into a season since 1966 when the Tribe racked up five shutouts.

It is also the first time Cleveland has tossed back-to-back shutouts since June 20-22, 2018, when they accomplished the feat (vs. Chicago-AL and vs. Detroit).

Cup runneth over – Cleveland secured the Ohio Cup outright for the 11th time with a 13-0 victory over Cincinnati. Cleveland retains the cup for the sixth straight season after improving to 66-51 all-time against the Reds, including a 37-23 mark at home.
Keeping pace – The Indians are 8-6 through 14 games, matching the team’s record to start both the 2018 and 2019 seasons.
Next up – Aaron Civale (1-1, 3.75 ERA) starts Friday night in the opener of a three-game series in Chicago against the White Sox.