Josh Outman has this trade thing down. When the assistant trainer calls, he starts packing.

The left-hander has been traded three times in his career. The last two times, including the transaction that brought him to Cleveland, started the same way.

“The day before the Rockies traded me, the assistant trainer called and said, “Hey, just checking in.’” said Outman. “It was kind of awkward. I was with my brother in law and told him, “I’m getting traded here pretty soon.’”

Colorado’s assistant trainer called on Dec. 17 – presumably to make sure Outman hadn’t been hit by a bus – and on Dec. 18, he was sent to the Indians for outfielder Drew Stubbs.

Outman said the same thing happened in Oakland. He received a call from the A’s assistant trainer on Jan. 15, 2012. The next day he was traded to the Rockies for outfielder Seth Smith.

Sherlock Holmes would call that a clue.

Last year was Outman’s first as a full-time reliever. In the four years before that, he bounced between the rotation and pen with the A’s and Rockies. He’ll stay in the pen with the Tribe, pairing with fellow lefty Marc Rzepczynski.

Manager Terry Francona said it was way too early to say what role Outman would fill, but it will definitely involve facing a lot of left-handed batters. Last year lefties hit .198 (22-for111) against the 6-1 Outman. In his career, they’re hitting just .189 (59-for-312) against him.