CLEVELAND -- Indians manager Manny Acta made sure he got a close look at Grady Sizemore's progress on Wednesday afternoon. A few hours before Cleveland's game against the Mariners, Acta threw to the sidelined center fielder in an early round of batting practice.
Sizemore is still has a long way to go in his return from back surgery, but taking swings in the batting cage is a major step forward.
"He looked good for the first time," Acta said. "He swung the bat good, but it's just a start. We're not going to rush anything. He's going to continue his rehab, and I'm anticipating that he's going to go on a rehab assignment where he's going to have plenty of at-bats before he comes up here and plays."
Sizemore, who underwent a micro disectomy procedure on his lower back on March 1, will be eligible to be activated from the 60-day disabled list on June 3. Acta said on Wednesday, however, that it is unlikely that the center fielder would be ready to rejoin the Indians' lineup by that day.
"I doubt that we'll be able to meet that date," Acta said. "I can't sit here and give you a timetable. He has to finish the strengthening program with his legs and then be declared ready to compete. It's not just about baseball."
Sizemore, 29, has been hitting, throwing and doing running and agility drills as part of his rehab from the back surgery, as well as the knee issues that have dogged him over the past two years. The veteran outfielder noted earlier this month that he hopes to return to Cleveland's lineup before July, though the team has not confirmed that potential timetable.
As things currently stand, the Tribe's outfield consists of right fielder Shin-Soo Choo, center fielder Michael Brantley, left fielder Johnny Damon and reserve outfielders Aaron Cunningham and Shelley Duncan. Prior to his injury, Sizemore was in the plans as the regular center fielder with Brantley in left. The Indians plan on being cautious with Sizemore's return.
"We're going to take everything out of his hands," Acta said. "He's going to follow everything that we have mapped out, and he's not fighting anything. He knows this is serious stuff."