SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Indians manager Terry Francona believes Jason Giambi will be an important part of the club this season. The veteran designated hitter just won't be a part of Cleveland's Opening Day roster.
On Monday, the Indians purchased Giambi's contract from Triple-A Columbus and promptly placed him on the 15-day disabled list, giving him the regular season's first week to rest a lower back strain. The 42-year-old Giambi will be eligible to be activated on April 9 and the Tribe expects that he will be ready by that time.
"We're trying to mostly stay ahead of this thing," Francona said. "The last couple days he's kind of laid low, and we anticipate that a little bit more for a couple more days, and then we'll ease him back in. He's been swinging the bat fine, and I don't think we want anything to interupt that."
The Indians designated outfielder Ezequiel Carrera for assignment in order to vacate a spot on the 40-man roster for Giambi.
Giambi will eventually rejoin Cleveland's bench as a part-time designated hitter and pinch-hitter. For Opening Day, the Indians will have a three-man bench featuring backup catcher Lou Marson, along with versatile utility men Mike Aviles and Ryan Raburn. Cleveland will need to add Raburn (a non-roster invitee) to the 40-man roster prior to Opening Day.
Raburn, who can play multiple infield spots and outfield corners, impressed the Indians this spring by hitting .359 (14-for-39) with four home runs, five doubles and 11 RBIs in Cactus League play.
"He's got a short, quick stroke," Francona said. "I think it's a swing that can lend itself to maybe not playing every day. This is a guy that a year ago came out of Spring Training as an everyday player [with Detroit], and everybody kept raving about him and he was set to have a big year. He got off to a slow start. That's part of the reason we were able to get him. His versatility really helps us."
Raburn earned a bench job over infielder Cord Phelps, who was optioned to Triple-A Columbus on Monday. This spring, Phelps hit .375 (18-for-48) with three homers, eight extra-base hits and seven RBIs for the Indians, making Monday's meeting a tough one for Francona.
"He couldn't have played better," Francona said. "That was the messge we told him. that was a tough one for us. Cord's future is really bright. He was about as professional as you can be, and we're really proud of him."
Cleveland also optioned catcher Yan Gomes -- acquired from Toronto in an offseason trade -- to Triple-A.
"We think he can be an everyday catcher," Francona said. "To have the guy sit right now is not helping his development. To have him go play will be really good for him."