"We had to do it," Francona said. "We went 'round and 'round and 'round. That's part of why we did it so late."
During Sunday's 4-3 loss to the White Sox, Kottaras launched a home run in his first two at-bats for Cleveland, which promoted him from Triple-A one day earlier when catcher Yan Gomes was placed on the paternity list. Kottaras became the first player in Indians history to belt a home run in each of his first two career plate appearances for the ballclub.
The 30-year-old Kottaras went 2-for-3 on Sunday after a 2-for-25 showing for Columbus. In parts of seven Major League seasons, the backup catcher has hit .216 over 296 games. The Indians signed Kottaras to a Minor League deal on March 31 -- five days after the Cubs released him.
Francona, who managed Kottaras briefly with the Red Sox in 2008-09, said Cleveland was left with little choice with the catcher. Now, the Indians will have 10 days to either trade or release Kottaras, or reassign him to the Minors if he clears waivers.
The Tribe needed to make a move to add Tomlin, but optioning a reliever was not possible with setup man Cody Allen and closer John Axford unavailable to pitch on Tuesday due to their recent workload. The Indians also needed to keep outfielder Nyjer Morgan on the roster, because center fielder Michael Bourn (left hamstring tightness) was still out, but the injury is not considered serious enough to warrant a trip to the 15-day disabled list.
"So, we end up having to designate George Kottaras, which we didn't want to do," Francona said. "That was a tough conversation. George is one of everybody's favorites that's ever been around him. We just couldn't figure out a way [to keep him]."
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.