CHICAGO -- With a daunting schedule ahead, the Indians wanted to make sure their outfield depth was plentiful. That played a large role in Tuesday's decision to designate utility infielder Jose Lopez for assignment.
That move opened a roster spot for the arrival of veteran outfielder Johnny Damon.
"The decision went more into effect because of the outfield situation," Indians manager Manny Acta explained. "We need a backup center fielder and, also, we're going to play an incredible amount of games in a row in May. Very few days off.
"Those guys in the outfield are going to need breaks. We felt that having the extra outfielder was more beneficial to us right now."
Due to an upcoming makeup game with the White Sox on Monday -- part of a day-night doubleheader to account for the April 10 rainout in Cleveland -- the Indians will play 21 games in 20 days out of the gates in May. Under the circumstances, Acta wanted the flexibility of giving a day off here or there to one of his regulars.
Damon will garner most of his playing time in left field, but Shelley Duncan is also an option for the position. Michael Brantley and Shin-Soo Choo are the regular center fielder and right fielder, respectively. On the bench is Aaron Cunningham, who can play all three positions, and is currently the only true backup to Brantley in center.
Lopez, who made the team out of Spring Training, offered insurance at first, second and third base, along with designated hitter. Duncan can also play first and DH, while utility man Jason Donald can serve as a backup for second base, shortstop, third base and the outfield.
The Indians have 10 days to either trade or release Lopez, or the club could re-assign him to a Minor League affiliate if he clears waivers. The 28-year-old Lopez -- signed to a Minor League contract over the winter and brought to camp this past spring as a non-roster invitee -- hit .190 in five games for the Tribe in April.
"It was a very tough decision," Acta said. "I like Jose and he was a very good teammate and I feel like he could help us. But, it is a numbers game."