The Indians continued to make minor moves in an effort to shape the ballclub for a pennant-race drive. Cleveland acquired veteran utility infielder Chris Gomez from the Baltimore Orioles on trade waivers Thursday. The Indians also traded third baseman-outfielder Russell Branyan to the Philadelphia Phillies. Branyan, signed to a minor-league contract Tuesday, was dealt for cash considerations.
Gomez, 36, hit .302 (51-for-169) with one homer and 16 RBI in 73 games this season for the Orioles. He played all four infield positions, making 18 starts at third base, 10 at shortstop, nine at first base and five at second base (6G). He has hit .310 (31-for-100) off right-hand pitchers, .290 (20-for-69) off lefties and .329 (23-for-70) with runners on base.
"He can play all the infield positions and brings experience," assistant general manager Chris Antonetti said about the acquisition of Gomez. "It gives (manager) Eric (Wedge) another versatile option to create some favorable matchups."
Wedge said Gomez and 21-year-old Asdrubal Cabrera, an infielder called up from Buffalo on Wednesday, could possibly be in the lineup at the same time.
"He'll play all over," Wedge said. "With the way we use everybody, even as a late-inning pinch-runner or pinch-hitter, to have another guy should help us."
With DH Travis Hafner hobbled by a sore knee, second baseman Josh Barfield slumping at the plate and the Indians' offense in general being in a funk, the team is searching for a spark and hopes it will come from Gomez.
Gomez has a career batting average of .261 (1,141-for-4,368) with 224 doubles, 18 triples, 59 homers and 461 RBI in 1,406 games over 15 seasons. He will be added to the 25-man roster Friday when a corresponding move will be made to open a spot. Left-hander Aaron Laffey, who earned his first career win in his second start since being called up from Buffalo on Aug. 4, will be sent back to Triple-A.
"As impressed as I was with his first start, I was even more-so today," Wedge said, adding that Laffey, Cliff Lee and Jeremy Sowers are all candidates to be called up at any time from Buffalo. "He did a real good job and pitched deep in the ballgame."
Laffey was excited about getting the win, noting that it came against a lefty he has admired, Chicago's Mark Buehrle. He also understood the impending roster move.
"I knew there was always the possibility I wouldn't be up here for the rest of the season," Laffey said. "I'll go back to Triple-A and do what I've been doing and hopefully get the call back up. (The move) is going to help the team. They added a position player they need.
"I'm happy to get the win tonight, now I'll go down there and try to execute pitches and get back up here."
Also on Thursday, infielder Mike Rouse was outrighted to Triple-A Buffalo, right-hander Fernando Cabrera released and outfielder Shin-Soo Choo sent to the Gulf Coast League Indians. Choo, sidelined since June 9 at Buffalo with a strained left elbow, will DH in Winter Haven, Fla., as he begins his rehab process.
The Indians had hoped to work out a waiver trade with Cabrera, but couldn't and now the young reliever is free to negotiate his own deal as a free agent.
The Indians return to Jacobs Field on Friday to open a key five-game homestand against the New York Yankees (three games) and Detroit Tigers -- two of their chief rivals in the battle for a playoff spot. Cleveland leads the Tigers by 1 1/2 games in the AL Central. Detroit and New York both have 63-51 records.