Indians designate outfielder Leonys Martín for assignment

CLEVELAND (AP) — Leonys Martin’s struggles at the plate forced the Indians to make a tough decision with the outfielder.

Martín, who overcame a life-threatening bacterial infection last summer after arriving in a trade, was designated for assignment on Saturday. He was batting .199 with nine home runs and 19 RBIs in 65 games.

Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti said the decision to part ways with the 31-year-old Martín was difficult.

“Obviously, with all the things we’ve been through with Leonys and his family to this point, it wasn’t easy,” Antonetti said before the Indians hosted the Detroit Tigers. “But we also have an obligation to do what we think is the right thing for the rest of the team.”

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Cleveland acquired Martín from the Tigers at the trade deadline last season, but he played only six games before becoming ill and being hospitalized.

Antonetti said the move had nothing to do with the argument Martín had with star shortstop Francisco Lindor in the dugout on Wednesday after the center fielder didn’t make a catch at the wall against Texas.

Martín signed a one-year, $3 million contract in October. He batted .182 (24 for 132) since May 1 and was in a 6-for-60 skid. Rookie Oscar Mercado will play regularly in center field.

“Leonys has just had a really difficult time getting going offensively and we feel that there are guys that are capable and have earned some more of those at-bats,” Antonetti said.

Martin became the first Cleveland players to make a straight steal of home since Grady Sizemore in 2005 last week when he swiped the plate against Detroit right-hander Victor Alcántara while helping the Indians sweep a three-game series at Comerica Park.

Antonetti expects additional roster moves will be made in the coming days.

First baseman Bobby Bradley, who leads the International League with 21 home runs, could be called up soon from Triple-A Columbus.

“It’s exciting to think about Bobby’s future,” Antonetti said. “At some point we expect that he’ll be here to help us.”

The Indians purchased the contract of right-hander Aaron Civale from Columbus to start in his major league debut Saturday against Detroit. It’s expected he’ll be sent back to Columbus following the game.

Starter Carlos Carrasco, who is sidelined with a blood condition that was diagnosed earlier this month, was in the clubhouse before the game.

“He’s making progress,” Antonetti said. “He’s working through his treatment and that’s really all I can say. Beyond that, we really can’t elaborate a whole lot, other than he’s doing well.”

The Indians trail Minnesota by nine games in the AL Central, but have won 11 of 16. It’s unclear how that will impact any decisions the team makes at next month’s trade deadline.

“One of the things we always have to do in our position is figure out how do we balance the near term with the long term,” Antonetti said. “Every decision we make we’ll have to weigh both of those two things. Exactly where we’ll be on that balance in July is really hard to predict, but that’s something we will have to weigh.”

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