Sizemore could return Sunday; Smith waiting

Sizemore could return Sunday; Smith waiting

Sizemore could return Sunday; Smith waiting
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Indians outfielder Grady Sizemore could return to the lineup as early as Sunday, his manager said on Thursday. Reliever Joe Smith may not be back so soon.

Sizemore injured his left knee last year on April 1, while sliding during an exhibition game, and he played through the injury until finally undergoing microfracture surgery in June. He hasn't appeared in a game since.

"He's on pace to play on Sunday," manager Manny Acta said Thursday, penciling in Sizemore for a home game against the D-backs."He's just going to DH for his first couple of at-bats."

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Sizemore recently added baserunning to his workouts, but he has yet to put the knee to the full test by sliding on it.

"I didn't do any sliding today," Sizemore said Thursday, though it had been a possibility. "[I'll probably slide] either tomorrow or the next day."

Sizemore was limited to 33 games last year and hit a career-low .211 with no homers, after hitting at least 18 in each of his first five full seasons in the big leagues.

Acta declined to say if Sizemore would take sliding practice before Sunday but said that Sizemore would run the bases again Friday.

"I'm excited to get on the field," Sizemore said. "Everything else has felt good. [Sliding] is just the last progression, I guess."

Smith, a right-handed reliever, has been sidelined with upper abdominal soreness after making five Cactus League appearances and posting a 3.60 ERA in five innings.

"I'm hoping to [play] catch Saturday or Sunday and go from there," Smith said.

Smith is day-to-day, but he declined to make a prediction about when he would be ready to throw a bullpen session.

"I'll see how it feels. There's a schedule out, but it's based on how it goes day by day," Smith said. "I feel all right. [The soreness] is still there, but it's getting better."

The Indians are being cautious with Smith, but Acta seems confident the reliever will be ready for a role in the 'pen by Opening Day.

"All he needs is two to three more outings," Acta said. "He's pitched enough already. He's a situational guy. He really doesn't need to pile up that many innings [in Spring Training]. "It's more about outings than innings for him. A couple outings will do him good. Lonnie [Soloff, the team's head athletic trainer] has it all mapped out where Smitty's going to get a few outings before Spring Training is over. If he doesn't have any setback, he should be fine for Opening Day."