The Indians lineup got a boost Sunday that paid immediate dividends, not just Sunday but, they hope, for the rest of the season. Center fielder Grady Sizemore was activated off the disabled list, and in his first at-bat of the game he belted a home run in the Indians' 4-2 win over Baltimore.
Sizemore also doubled, as he returned to the lineup for the first time since being on the disabled list since mid-May of last year. Sizemore missed most of last season and the first two weeks of this season while recovering from microfracture surgery on his left knee.
His return makes the Indians' lineup deeper, and more dangerous. Sizemore was a leadoff hitter for most of his career until hitting second last season prior to his injury. He returned Sunday as the leadoff hitter, and manager Manny Acta said that's where Sizemore will stay.
That bumps Michael Brantley, who replaced Sizemore in center field and in the leadoff spot, further down in the lineup. Brantley also becomes the everyday left fielder. Acta said Brantley will hit in the lower third of the order.
According to Acta, Sizemore will not play every day initially. The Indians want to ease him back into the lineup. Acta said Sizemore will start four or five times a week for the time being, with Brantley starting in center on days Sizemore does not.
The return of Sizemore has the most direct effect on outfielders Austin Kearns and Travis Buck, who had been splitting time in left field. With Brantley now moving from center to left, Kearns and Buck will become bench players, although Buck's spot on the roster could be in jeopardy Tuesday.
After putting pitcher Mitch Talbot on the disabled list Sunday, the Indians will recall Jeanmar Gomez on Tuesday to take Talbot's spot in the starting rotation. A roster spot will have to be created for Gomez, and Buck would appear to be the most vulnerable.
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