CLEVELAND -- The Indians are expected to get two of their best hitters back Friday. Both Shin-Soo Choo (sprained right thumb) and Asdrubal Cabrera (fractured right forearm) are suiting up for Double-A Akron on a Minor League rehab assignment this week, with an eye on rejoining the Tribe for Friday's series opener against the Rays. They'll both play for the Aeros on Monday through Wednesday. Though manager Manny Acta didn't initially think a Minor League rehab assignment would be necessary for Choo, Choo himself insisted on going down to Akron this week to see live pitching.
"The last time I played was July 1 [actually, July 2]," Choo said. "So I have not seen a pitcher for 20 days. I take batting practice every day, but I want to see a pitcher to get more comfortable." Choo has ramped up his return-to-hit program this weekend. On Sunday, he took outdoor batting practice for the first time since the injury. He took about 50 swings outdoors and had no setbacks with the hand. While hitting, Choo has his thumb supported by a splint and wrapped in tape. But the pain has subsided, the ligament does not appear to be damaged and a surgery that once seemed inevitable has been avoided. That's good news for the Indians, who thought they might be without Choo for up to two months. Instead, they should have him back in a matter of days. Cabrera was out of action for two months after suffering the forearm fracture, which required surgery. But he hasn't felt the least bit rusty during his rehab assignment. "Everything feels really good," said Cabrera, who was in the Indians' clubhouse Sunday morning. On Saturday in Akron, Cabrera played nine innings at shortstop for the first time on his assignment. He is 3-for-10 in three games with the Aeros and was 2-for-6 in two games with Class A Mahoning Valley. The Indians wanted him to get somewhere in the vicinity of 30 at-bats on this rehab assignment. The only prominent member of the Indians' lineup who won't be coming back from the DL is center fielder Grady Sizemore, who is done for the season after microfracture surgery on his left knee.