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."
Brantley cleared; returns as pinch-hitter in ninth
CLEVELAND -- Michael Brantley made his return to the Tribe a day earlier than expected when he pinch-hit for Mike Aviles in Friday night's 6-4 loss to Detroit.
Brantley, who had been sidelined since Monday with a mild concussion, was not slated to play until Saturday. However, the outfielder wound up getting medically cleared by team doctors "during the third or fourth inning" of Friday's game, says Indians manager Terry Francona, and the skipper used him once the ninth inning came around.
"Yeah, he got all the OKs. There's a lot of paperwork and things like that that go into it," Francona said. "And then I obviously went down and checked with him. He got loose as the game progressed."
Brantley coaxed a two-out bloop single out of Tigers closer Joe Nathan in his lone plate appearance of the game, which extended his hitting streak to nine games. Cleveland's regular No. 3 hitter has gone 16-for-29 with five extra-base hits during that span and complements that with a .326/.393/.521 line on the season.
Brantley sustained the concussion during the team's series opener with the Angels when he collided with shortstop John McDonald on a hard slide into second base. He spent much of the week taking part in normal activities and went through an unrestricted pregame routine ahead of Friday's game, including hitting on the field and running full-speed on the bases.
Quote to note
"I missed all these guys. It's great coming in here and seeing all the smiles. It's a happy day."
• Nick Swisher's game-winning grand slam on Thursday marked the 74th walk-off home run in Progressive Field history (1994-present). That is by far the most by any Major League team over that time period. In that same span, the A's rank second with 56 walk-off home runs at the Coliseum. The Dodgers (51) and Red Sox (49) rank third and fourth, respectively.
• Swisher's slam on Thursday came in the 10th inning, giving him two extra-inning, game-winning home runs (he had a go-ahead solo shot in the 11th inning on Sunday in Boston) in a span of five days. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last Cleveland player to accomplish that same feat was Albert Belle (Aug. 30-31, 1995).
• On Friday, the Indians signed a pair of selections from the First-Year Player Draft. Cleveland reached deals with right-hander Luke Eubank (15th round) of Oxnard College (Calif.) and outfielder Jodd Carter (24th round) out of Hilo High School (Hawaii), bringing the team's total to 25 draftees signed.
• Indians outfield prospect Carlos Moncrief belted a three-run homer in the first inning of Triple-A Columbus' 7-4 loss to Buffalo on Thursday. That marked Moncrief's eighth homer of the season and his third in the past seven games for the Clippers.
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.