CLEVELAND -- Jose Lopez served as the Indians' cleanup hitter in 20 games this season. On Tuesday, the Tribe designated him for assignment for the second time. To fill Lopez's roster spot, Cleveland recalled right-handed reliever Frank Herrmann from Triple-A Columbus.
Lopez became the fourth veteran player the Indians have designated within the last week, joining outfielder Johnny Damon and pitchers Derek Lowe and Jeremy Accardo. The Indians entered Tuesday's game on a 10-game losing streak, and they were 10 1/2 games behind first-place Chicago in the American League Central.
Lopez, who appeared mostly at third base for Cleveland, hit .249 with four home runs and 28 RBIs in 66 games this season. He had struggled of late, though, hitting just .197 with no homers and one RBI in 22 games since July 4. The Indians have 10 days to trade Lopez or release him.
"Tough call. He's been very serviceable," Indians manager Manny Acta said of Lopez. "He was a very good teammate, and he has filled a role for us, but we had no choice. We had to do it. Our bullpen is just not in very good shape right now."
The Indians pitching staff has been beaten up during the team's current skid, and Acta said several of his relievers were unavailable on Tuesday. Starter Zach McAllister lasted only 1 2/3 innings in Monday's loss, and the Indians were forced to use five different pitchers out of the bullpen.
That's why Cleveland opted to play with one less position player and call up Herrmann, who will serve as a long reliever for the Indians. Acta said Herrmann was available to go two or three innings on Tuesday night if needed.
"That's why he's here," Acta said.
Herrmann had spent the entire 2012 season with Columbus, where he went 2-2 with a 4.28 ERA and seven saves in 39 relief appearances. The 28-year-old made 40 appearances for the Indians last season, posting a 5.11 ERA with 34 strikeouts in 56 1/3 innings. Herrmann was averaging 9.9 strikeouts per nine innings for Columbus.
"He has been working on a spike curve down there, and [Columbus pitching coach] Ruben [Niebla] feels it's been a pretty decent pitch for him," Acta said. "They were looking for a pitch with some depth that he can use against left-handed hitters. They're very positive on his curve."