CLEVELAND -- Jordan Brown won the International League batting title, but it was light-hitting infielder Niuman Romero who was added to the Indians' 40-man roster and promoted to the big leagues Tuesday. Romero was the Tribe's surprise final September callup. The 24-year-old Venezuela native will add infield depth up the middle down the stretch, as manager Eric Wedge hopes to get adequate rest for Asdrubal Cabrera, Luis Valbuena and Jamey Carroll. Triple-A Columbus manager Torey Lovullo also joined the Tribe on Tuesday, as he does each year at this time, for the final weeks of the season. Columbus' season wrapped up Monday night.
Infielder Jason Donald, who was acquired in the July 29 trade that sent Cliff Lee and Ben Francisco to the Phillies, would have been called up in Romero's place had he not suffered a lower back injury that landed him on the Columbus disabled list in August. And so it's the switch-hitting Romero making his first appearance in the Majors. He spent his 2009 season at Double-A Akron and Columbus, batting a combined .240 with 14 doubles, a triple, a homer, 35 RBIs and 47 runs scored in 115 games. Romero saw time at all four infield spots with the Clippers, including 58 games at short, eight at third, eight at second and seven at first. "He's a grinder," Wedge said. "He's fought his way through the system. He's a good kid, he's versatile, and he can play everywhere in the infield. We've been pushing Asdrubal, Valbuena and Jamey pretty hard. We'll be able to give them a little bit of a break." Brown can't seem to catch a break with the Tribe. He won the IL batting title with a .336 average, and he hit 15 homers with 67 RBIs and a .913 OPS. "There's just not at-bats for him up here," Wedge said. "We're not going to call somebody up unless there's a good reason for them to be here." One reason Brown isn't here, beyond the at-bat issue, is his defense. The Indians still view Brown, who is now viewed as a full-time left fielder and no longer a first baseman, as a potential liability on the defensive front. Still, it appears a given that somebody will take a chance on Brown in the Rule 5 Draft this winter. Brown went unclaimed in that Draft last offseason, after the Indians left him off their 40-man roster, but his return from knee issues in '08 and the numbers he put up at Columbus will no doubt draw interest. Brown apparently does not figure into the Indians' future plans, as this September snub illustrates. Telling a batting champ he hasn't done enough to get a late-season callup couldn't have been an easy conversation for Lovullo. "It's happened before," Wedge said. "It's just the business of baseball. It's not just stat-oriented. We've got a bigger picture we're looking at. We've got guys we need to play and need to pitch, and that's where we're at."
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.