CWS@CLE: Bourn exits game after headfirst slide

CHICAGO -- The Indians knew what they had in Michael Bourn. His absence from the leadoff spot over the past two weeks has only made his impact on a game and lineup more noticeable.

Cleveland is looking forward to getting Bourn back as soon as possible.

"It'll be really good," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "He gives us more flexibility, which is always nice. He makes the batting order look that much longer, and he's a speed guy at the front. You can take [Michael] Brantley's bat and put it somewhere else. It's a better lineup."

In 10 games with Cleveland, Bourn has hit .333 (15-for-45) with two home runs, four doubles, one triple, two walks, two RBIs, seven runs scored and 27 total bases. Since he injured his right hand sliding into first base on April 14, Brantley and Drew Stubbs have filled in as leadoff hitters for the Tribe.

Entering Wednesday, Brantley (six starts) and Stubbs (one start) were hitting a combined .214 (6-for-28) with one double, two RBIs, six walks and seven total bases out of the lineup's top spot since Bourn went down with the injury.

Bourn, on the 15-day disabled list with an injured right index finger, is scheduled to fly back to Cleveland on Thursday's off-day to be re-evaluated. The center fielder is also slated to have the five stitches removed from his finger, making it possible for him to resume baseball activities upon re-joining the team in Kansas City this weekend.

Francona said the Indians have not decided if Bourn, who is eligible to be activated on Tuesday, will need a Minor League rehab assignment before coming off the disabled list.

"He's been tracking pitches in the bullpen and things like that," Francona said, "but he can get a little more physical with the finger after he gets the stitches out."

Indians activate Marson from DL, option Gomes

Must C Collision: Marson denies Jennings at the dish

CHICAGO -- Lou Marson did not like being placed on the disabled list. The backup catcher was also not a fan of being away from the Indians while recovering from a neck strain sustained in a home-plate collision in his first start of the season.

Needless to say, Marson was thrilled to be activated and reunited with his teammates on Wednesday.

"It's nice to be back," Marson said. "I was hoping when I was hurt that I could travel with the team, because I didn't want to have to stay in Cleveland and be away from the guys."

To clear room on the active roster for Marson's return, Cleveland optioned catcher Yan Gomes to Triple-A Columbus. The Indians were impressed with Gomes' play -- both in the batter's box and behind the plate -- but the organization wants the young catcher to have regular playing time to further his development.

Marson has served as a backup catcher for the Tribe for the past four seasons and has experience handling the sporadic playing time that comes with the job. The Indians wanted the 25-year-old Gomes to understand the long-term thinking in sending him back to the Minors.

"We discussed that with him," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "To his credit, I think he understands it. The day you send a guy down is not maybe necessaarily the best day to explain stuff to guys, but he was really good about it. We took a lot of time to try to explain it. He needs to play. For his career, this is a good thing for him to do right now.

"It's hard enough backing up. You can ask Lou. He'd probably say the same thing. It's hard. It's hard to do [especially] for a younger guy, with less experience. He needs to go play."

With starting catcher Carlos Santana sidelined with flu-like symptoms, Marson got the nod behind the dish for Wednesday's game against the White Sox. Marson's last start was on April 6, but the catcher was forced to exit after being plowed over at the plate by Tampa Bay's Desmond Jennings in the third inning of a 6-0 loss to the Rays.

On April 8, Marson took over for Santana in the ninth inning against the Yankees after the Tribe's regular catcher injured his left hand. Marson was still in pain that night and, looking back on it now, the backup catcher knows going on the 15-day DL was the appropriate move.

"Absolutely," Marson said. "I was pretty sore for almost a week. I thought I could stay in there and maybe catch if something happened to Carlos, or at least be ready. But I went in [on April 8] and it didn't feel good at all. They had to do something. It wouldn't have been good.

"I wouldn't have been able to perform the way I wanted with my neck not being able to rotate and turn without hurting. Yan came up and did a good job. That was awesome."

Ailing Asdrubal, Santana sit out Wednesday's finale

Must C Clutch: Asdrubal Cabrera's clutch two-run hit

CHICAGO -- The Indians were a bit short-handed for Wednesday's game against the White Sox. Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and catcher Carlos Santana were both out of the starting lineup because of health issues.

Cabrera was dealing with a sore right quad and Santana was sidelined with flu-like symptoms. Indians manager Terry Francona said he held both players out with the hope that -- with an off-day looming on Thursday -- they might be ready to return to the mix on Friday in Kansas City.

Cabrera tweaked his right leg while stealing second base in the eighth inning of Monday's 3-2 win over Chicago.

Mike Aviles started in place of Cabrera at shortstop on Wednesday.

"He was running the bases and he felt his quad a little bit," Francona said of Cabrera. "We're just going to try to take advantage. It's a miserable day and we have the day off [Thursday]. We lean on him pretty hard. So we'll give him a day, let Aviles play short and let [Cabrera] come in Friday feeling really good."

Santana has felt ill for the past couple of days. The Indians catcher saw a doctor in Chicago on Tuesday night and was given medication.

"He's a little bit enfermo," Francona said. "They've got him on meds and everything. We'll get him feeling better and hopefully not have him get everybody else sick. He can be our backup in case something happens. He's just not feeling well."

Quote to note

"I will never say that. The minute I say it, we'll get two-hit. It just never fails. ... This game is so weird, man. And we're probably going to be a team that has some ups and downs, just because of who we have. That's part of it. We'll see."
-- Indians manager Terry Francona, when asked if the offense was warming up

Smoke signals

• The Indians hold a 4-2 record in one-run games. Over the past five seasons, Cleveland's .549 (100-82) winning percentage in one-run contests was the fifth-best mark in the Majors. Only Baltimore (.567, 101 wins), San Francisco (.565, 117 wins), Philadelphia (.553, 109 wins) and Atlanta (.552, 107 wins) boasted better records in that span.

• Cleveland's bullpen entered Wednesday riding a run of 16 2/3 consecutive shutout innings, dating back to the eighth inning against the Red Sox on Thursday. Over the past nine games, Indians relievers have yielded just four earned runs over 35 2/3 innings for a 1.01 ERA.

• The Indians entered Wednesday with 222 home runs all-time at U.S. Cellular Field. That represented the most long balls by a visiting team since the ballpark opened in 1991. The Tigers rank second with 215 at the home ballpark of the White Sox.

• Right-hander Fernando Nieve cleared waivers and was sent outright to Triple-A Columbus on Wednesday. The Indians designated Nieve for assignment Monday to clear room on the 40-man roster for righty Matt Albers, who had been on the restricted list while tending to a family situation.