CLEVELAND -- The Indians added a fresh arm on Saturday to breathe some life into their beleaguered bullpen.
Prior to their game with the A's, the Indians promoted left-hander T.J. House from Triple-A Columbus, giving him a second shot at a Major League debut. House assumed the roster spot vacated by right-hander C.C. Lee, who was optioned to Triple-A.
In the ninth inning of Cleveland's 6-2 loss to the A's on Saturday, House made his Major League debut with one scoreless frame. The lefty induced a groundout from Nick Punto and, following an error by shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, got an inning-ending double-play groundout off the bat of Alberto Callaspo.
"It's fun getting to come up with the team that drafted you," House said before the game. "It'll be seven years on August 15th. So, finally getting to walk in the doors and be in this clubhouse and be around these guys again, it's a wave of emotions. It's excitement and a little bit of jitters in there. I'm hoping it all works out for the best."
House joined Cleveland for three days in Baltimore last season (June 24-26) as insurance for the pitching staff, but he did not appear in a big league game. This season with Columbus, the lefty has posted a 2.40 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in 41 1/3 innings, with 34 strikeouts against 11 walks.
The 24-year-old House -- a 16th-round pick by the Indians in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft -- has worked as a starter throughout his Minor League career. With the Indians, though, the lefty will provide an additional bullpen arm, considering the relief corps has worked a combined 11 2/3 innings over the past two games.
"He can go multiple innings and he's been throwing the ball really well," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "Sometimes, it serves a [purpose]. T.J., he's most likely a potential starter this year as things unfold, because of the way he's pitching. So to allow him to get here and see the atmosphere, kind of get the newness out of the way, that can only help."
Cleveland currently has nine relievers, but the team is expected to promote right-hander Trevor Bauer, ranked third among prospects in the organization by MLB.com, from Triple-A Columbus in the coming days for a start on Tuesday against the Tigers. At that point, it is likely that House, or another reliever, will be optioned to Triple-A to clear a spot.
Lee, 27, has posted a 4.76 ERA in 13 appearances this season for the Indians. Across 11 1/3 innings working in middle relief, the right-hander has given up 11 hits (two home runs), while recording 11 strikeouts and three walks.
"I think we all think C.C. is going to be a guy that ends up pitching fairly late in the game for us," Francona said. "I think at every level C.C.'s been, it's taken him a little while to kind of feel like he belongs. This is no different."
Crockett shakes nerves in Major League debut
CLEVELAND -- It took left-hander Kyle Crockett less than one year to reach the Majors after being taken in the fourth round of last summer's First-Year Player Draft by the Indians. It then took less than two innings for him to make his big league debut.
In the second inning of Cleveland's 11-1 loss to Oakland on Friday, Indians manager Terry Francona summoned the 22-year-old Crockett from the bullpen after starter Zach McAllister surrendered eight runs and recorded just one out in the frame. Earlier in the day, Crockett had been on a bus with his Double-A Akron teammates.
Crockett was understandably nervous.
"Definitely," he said with a smile on Saturday. "I got up pretty quick and had to get going fast, so the nerves weren't quite there in the 'pen. But, once you get out on the mound, you can't really feel your legs and you kind of have to focus a little harder. I think I was trying to do too much."
Crockett -- the Majors' first player to reach the big leagues from the 2013 Draft class -- issued a walk to Brandon Moss before inducing a double play off the bat of Yoenis Cespedes to escape the second. In the third, the left-hander gave up a leadoff home run to Jed Lowrie, but then settled down and created a pair of flyouts before leaving the game.
Francona was happy to help Crockett get his debut out of the way.
"I wish we were up [8-1] instead of down, but it's good he didn't sit here for three days and not pitch," Francona said. "That gets difficult. Now, he's got the first one out of the way. It's still going to be new, but he can start to be a part of what we're doing and try to help us win."
Crockett soared through Cleveland's system over the past two seasons, posting a 0.45 ERA with 48 strikeouts in 40 1/3 innings across three levels before reaching the Majors. Indians setup man Cody Allen -- the second player from the 2011 Draft to reach the Majors -- knows what it is like to rise to the big leagues quickly.
"I just told him, 'I know it's a whirlwind for you right now,'" Allen said, "'but there's a reason why you're here. It's because everybody in that office over there, the staff, everybody here believes you can do it, that you can pitch here. Just be yourself.'"
Allen remembers the kind of rookie jitters that Crockett experienced on Friday night.
"I remember my first outing, I walked the first two guys I faced," Allen said. "Everything was going a million miles an hour. And then my second outing, I felt a lot more comfortable. It's just one of those things where you have to learn gradually outing by outing how to slow the game down and make small adjustments in order to have success. I think he'll be fine."
Giambi taking team-first approach to coming off DL
CLEVELAND -- Indians veteran Jason Giambi is not worrying too much about the details of his return to the team. The designated hitter will be eligible to come off the disabled list on Monday, but he has yet to talk about the specific situation over with manager Terry Francona.
"Whatever is best for the ballclub," Giambi said on Saturday. "We haven't even talked about it. I think we've got bigger problems right now than me."
Francona indicated that the 43-year-old Giambi could be activated on Tuesday because the Tigers have lefty Drew Smyly scheduled to pitch against the Indians on Monday. Giambi was placed on the 15-day DL with a right calf injury on May 5 (his second stint on the DL this season), but Francona said the veteran will not need a Minor League rehab assignment.
Giambi has no hits in 10 at-bats in four games for Cleveland this season.
"'G' has been really good about it," Francona said. "He goes, 'Hey man, activate me when it helps.'"
Giambi, who has provided a voice of leadership for the Indians over the past two seasons, believes the Indians still have the right pieces to pull out of the early slump. The veteran said the showing by the defense has been "shocking," and cited a lack of consistency across the board for the fact that the Tribe entered Saturday 8 1/2 games behind the American League Central-leading Tigers.
"We're scuffling. We just cant get that consistent play," Giambi said. "We get that little glimmer of, like, 'Oh, there we are,' and then it just kind of falls apart. That's tough. ... It'll be there. It's going to be there. It's just a question of, how long is it going to take? Hopefully time doesn't run out, because it's going to be there.
"I'm not panicked or anything. We're keeping our head above water. We just need to get that one good run."
Quote to note
"Hopefully, back home, we'll get going and eventually that big ball, the yellow thing -- the sun -- will come out one of these days."
• Prior to Saturday's game against Oakland, Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis (on the 15-day disabled list with a right oblique injury) fielded grounders at Progressive Field. Francona indicated that Kipnis might be cleared to begin a Minor League rehab assignment by next weekend.
"I think like when we leave for Baltimore [May 22-25], he would possibly go out and play," Francona said. "I think that's a pretty good timeframe. We'll see. He's going to go out in the field in the next couple days. We've just kind of let his body dictate the pace and not just the calendar."
• In the eighth inning of Friday's blowout loss, Francona gave first-base prospect Jesus Aguilar a chance to play third base against the A's. Aguilar was getting reps at the position with Triple-A Columbus prior to being called up to Cleveland on Thursday.
"I think he had only played one game in Triple-A, but he played about 10 in winter ball," Francona said. "I just asked him, 'Hey, man, do you want to go do this? Because I don't want to embarrass you.' He was like, 'No, I'd love to.'"
• On Saturday, the Indians activated right-hander J.C. Ramirez from the Minor League disabled list and transferred the pitcher to Double-A Akron. Ramirez sustained a right thumb injury during Spring Training that required surgery.