ARLINGTON -- John McDonald smiled when asked if anyone in the clubhouse was on the Indians the last time the veteran infielder suited up for the Tribe. McDonald ran through the roster in his mind and then realized he had a former Cleveland teammate in the coaches' locker room.
"Does Sandy count?" McDonald said with a laugh.
That would be bench coach Sandy Alomar Jr., who was teammates with McDonald in Cleveland most recently in 2000. A few years have gone by since then for the 38-year-old McDonald, who rejoined the Indians on Tuesday after being acquired from the Pirates a day earlier for a player to be named and/or cash considerations.
McDonald was selected by Cleveland in the 12th round of the 1996 First-Year Player Draft and spent parts of the 1999-2004 seasons with the Tribe. Thanks to a strong glove and an affable personality, McDonald has enjoyed 15 seasons in the big leagues between stints with the Indians, Blue Jays, Tigers, D-backs and Pirates.
McDonald will serve as the primary backup to shortstop Mike Aviles while All-Star shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera remains on the disabled list with his right quad strain. McDonald can also provide depth at second and third base, along with leadership in the clubhouse.
"He'll back up everywhere," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "Johnny Mac has been through it. He can catch the ball wherever you put him. When he's not playing, he'll be an outstanding influence. Anybody that's been around him for two seconds, he just brightens up everybody's day."
To clear room on the active roster, Cleveland optioned shortstop Juan Diaz back to Triple-A Columbus. Diaz was promoted on June 4 when Cabrera landed on the disabled list, but the young shortstop did not appear in a game for the Tribe. Francona said a young player like Diaz should not be sitting on the bench.
"It wasn't the ideal situation for Juan," Francona said. "He's a young player and needs to play."
McDonald appeared in just 16 games with the Pirates this season and recently completed a Minor League rehab stint with Triple-A Indianapolis after a back injury. Over 970 career games, McDonald has hit just .237, but his bat has never been his main skill. Teams have continued to give McDonald a spot in the Majors due to the stellar defense he can provide off the bench.
That remains the case with Cleveland.
"It's the same role," McDonald said. "My role hasn't necessarily changed over the course of my career. I'll be ready to play all three spots in the infield. The type of player I am hasn't really changed since I was younger. I'm not expected to go out and hit 20 homers. It's just play defense, have good at-bats and help the team win."
McDonald was thrilled to be back with the Indians, too.
"I'm excited," he said. "It was a lot of fun when I was here and it's good to be wearing these colors again and having the Wahoo on. You never know where baseball is going to take you."
Indians expect more out of right-hander Carrasco
ARLINGTON -- The Indians believe it is time for Carlos Carrasco to live up to his potential and show that he belongs in the big leagues. That was the message the team delivered to the pitcher following his disappointing outing against the Tigers on Saturday.
"We just talked about him owning up to it," Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway said, "and going out there and pitching like a Major League pitcher. We think it's time for him to do that. He knows that."
During Saturday's start in Detroit, Carrasco allowed six runs on 10 hits in four innings, including three that included bases-loaded jams. The right-hander routinely hit around 95-97 mph with his fastball, but he strayed away from the aggressive approach he displayed in recent outings at Triple-A Columbus. Carrasco did not pitch inside well and that allowed the Tigers' hitters to get their arms extended to create solid contact.
Given Carrasco's recent history of suspensions, he admitted to Callaway and manager Terry Francona that he was tentative when it came to pitching inside. Carrasco is currently serving a seven-game suspension for hitting the Yankees' Kevin Youkilis with a pitch after allowing a home run to Robinson Cano on April 9. The Indians starter was hit with a suspension due to a similar incident against the Royals in 2011.
"He's got to pitch in," Callaway said. "He was doing that in Triple-A and he kind of got away from it the other day. We had a good conversation about it and I expect that he's going to start pitching in a little more. We talked about it. He had a little anxiety pitching in just in case he hit somebody and gets thrown out of the game.
"We explained to him that if you're just pitching in in a normal situation, not after giving up home runs, and you hit somebody, you're going to be OK."
With Columbus this season, Carrasco went 2-0 with a 3.21 ERA, 50 strikeouts and 14 walks in 47 2/3 innings.
On Thursday, which is an off-day for the Indians, Carrasco will head to Charlotte, N.C., with Columbus to throw a five-inning (75-80 pitches) simulated game to stay sharp. If everything goes according to plan, Carrasco will make his next start for Cleveland on June 18 against the Royals.
"One of the reasons he's going to do this sim game," Callaway said, "is to really implement some of the things we talked about and get comfortable. He knows he needs to be comfortable at this level. He's done it before and had success."
Indians announce Tribute for Heroes finalists
ARLINGTON -- Indians first baseman Nick Swisher felt honored to be a part of the selection process for Major League Baseball and People magazine's Tribute to Heroes initiative.
On Tuesday, MLB and People unveiled the 90 finalists (three per big league team) for the program, which recognizes veterans and military service members. One winner from each Major League team will be included in All-Star Week festivities and recognized during a pregame ceremony leading up to the July 16 All-Star Game at Citi Field in New York.
Swisher was part of a panel that selected the finalists.
"Any time I get an opportunity to do something like that, I take it with a lot of pride," Swisher said. "I was able to read some of the applicants that were brought in. It almost kind of brings you tears, the things these men and women go through. It almost makes me look back and think, man, I don't even know if I'd be man enough to do some of the things they're doing.
"People like that deserve so much credit, and this is such an amazing thing. If we can bring a little more attention to what they're doing, I think that's great for everybody."
Cleveland's three finalists are Gary Myers, Raymond T. Matwich and Daniel McKee. Myers is an eight-year Marine Corps combat veteran (he served in both Iraq and Afghanistan) and thyroid cancer survivor. Matwich is a 92-year-old veteran of World War II with five Battle Stars to his credit. McKee served 23 years in the Navy, was deployed eight times and won numerous medals and awards.
Fans can visit TributeForHeroes.com to vote on their favorite stories through June 30.
"That list could go on and on and on," Swisher said. "Just to be able to have the applicants that we've had, they were so amazing. It's tough to narrow it down to just one individual. For all the men and women out there doing what they're doing, they deserve so much credit."
Quote to note
"My goal was to play baseball as long as I could, until someone told me I wasn't good enough anymore. Getting to the big leagues was awesome. Everyone used to say, 'You can get there, but everyone has a hard time staying up there, because guys are really good.' To be able to play with a lot of the best players in the world for the last 15 years, I didn't think that was actually going to be possible."
• Swisher was still sore on Tuesday after fouling a pitch off his right knee during Sunday's game in Detroit. Swisher was in the starting lineup at first base for Tuesday's game against the Rangers after playing with discomfort as Cleveland's right fielder on Monday.
"I just kind of grinded through that day," said Swisher, referring to Monday's loss. "I've already missed enough time. ... I'm done taken those days off, that's for sure."
• Prior to Tuesday's game, a pipe burst under the infield at Rangers Ballpark, forcing the Indians to do pregame batting practice indoors. The grounds crew worked on the field and had an area behind the mound fixed in time for the game to begin as scheduled. Indians manager Terry Francona joked that it reminded him of a scene in the movie "Bull Durham" where the players flooded a field to force a rainout.
"I didn't do it," Francona joked. "We're not there yet. We're a little frustrated, but we're not there."
• Francona noted that All-Star closer Chris Perez (on the 15-day disabled list due to a right shoulder injury) threw off a mound on Tuesday and is scheduled to do so again on Friday. If Friday's mound session goes well, Perez would likely then be sent out on a Minor League rehab assignment.
• Indians center fielder Michael Bourn received a scheduled day off from starting on Tuesday against the Rangers. Right fielder Drew Stubbs shifted to center and moved into the leadoff spot in place of Bourn. Francona said, given Bourn's aggressive style of play, he will try to find spots to give him rest throughout the season.
• On Tuesday, the Indians named Double-A Akron outfielder Carlos Moncrief the organization's Minor League Player of the Week for the period of June 5-11. During that span, the 24-year-old Moncrief hit .524 (11-for-21) with four multi-hit games, six RBIs and a 1.260 OPS.