CLEVELAND -- Indians manager Terry Francona jokes often that he would carry a dozen relievers if his roster was not limited. Cleveland's rainout on Wednesday, combined with an unusual alignment of off-days next week, has allowed the manager to once again expand his relief corps.
Prior to Friday's game against the Tigers, the Indians promoted right-hander Vinnie Pestano from Triple-A Columbus and optioned starter Zach McAllister to the same affiliate. Cleveland, which does not require a fifth starter until July 1, now has nine relievers in hand.
"We have a chance to ease the burden on the bullpen," Francona said. "There's not many times in a year when you can have a nine-man bullpen and have it work. This is a time where we can take advantage of that."
McAllister was activated from the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday, following a bout with a minor back issue, but a rainout of the Tribe's game against the Angels that night eliminated the need to use the right-hander on Thursday. Francona noted that McAllister, as well as lefty T.J. House, can stay on regular rest in Triple-A until Cleveland needs a fifth starter.
Francona would not say whether McAllister or House had the edge for that promotion.
"That'll be 12 days down the road," Francona said.
This marks Pestano's first time back in Cleveland since he was optioned to the Minors on April 9. The righty struggled to begin the season, posting a 13.50 ERA in three appearances, but he has since been effective, turning in a 0.48 ERA and a 0.75 WHIP over his last 18 outings. He has held opposing batters to a .172 average, struck out 20 and walked only three during that span.
Pestano said he focused on a variety of mechanical adjustments one at a time during his stay at Triple-A. Cleveland's former setup man (he posted a 2.45 ERA with 160 strikeouts in 132 innings across the 2011-12 campaigns) said he has seen a slight increase in velocity to go along with the recent results.
"I wouldn't have been able to do all those things up here," Pestano said of working out the kinks. "You're not afforded that luxury. That's why, when you're up here, you're up here for a reason. It's because you don't have a lot of stuff to work on. ... I'd rather work on stuff [in the Minors]. It's a lot easier to swallow a bad day if you're trying to tinker with things."
Francona said the Indians were thrilled with how Pestano approached the situation.
"Vinnie is actually to be commended," Francona said. "That's a hard thing to do. We try not to forget, ever, Vinnie was the eighth-inning guy here and one of the best in the league. A year later, it's a little bit of a struggle and you lose your role a little bit, then you get sent down, and it's not easy. He handled it really well."
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. Alec Shirkey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less