Left elbow injury forces Sizemore to DL

Elbow injury forces Sizemore to DL

CLEVELAND -- Grady Sizemore's inflamed left elbow has forced him to the disabled list, and Victor Martinez's bruised left knee has forced him to the bench.

With their two biggest stars ailing Sunday morning, the Indians promoted the versatile Chris Gimenez from Triple-A Columbus to help them on two fronts. Gimenez can play the corner-outfield spots and serve as the backup to catcher Kelly Shoppach while Martinez heals from the bruise he suffered when fouling a CC Sabathia fastball off his knee Saturday night.

As for Sizemore, the Tribe's three-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner is now on the 15-day DL for the first time in his career.

It's a move akin to seeing Superman on crutches, because Sizemore has been a constant presence in the Indians' lineup the past four years. Sunday's game against the Yankees was set to be just the eighth game Sizemore has missed since Aug. 26, 2005.

But because of the elbow soreness, which Sizemore recently said has bothered him all season, he has logged just three games in center field since May 16. He had been limited to DH duties because the elbow bothered him on throws from the outfield. The Indians hoped staying away from the field would allow the elbow to heal, but the DL move proves that plan did not work out.

According to the Indians, Sizemore had an MRI exam that did not reveal any structural damage. They just want to wait a couple of weeks for the inflammation to die down.

"We just couldn't take it any further," manager Eric Wedge said. "We didn't want to put him in harm's way to where it goes from a hot elbow to something structurally damaged."

Sizemore, getting treatment on the elbow, was not available for comment Sunday morning. When asked about the elbow last week, he said he wouldn't use it as an excuse for his subpar performance at the plate this season. Sizemore is batting .223 with nine homers, 31 RBIs and a .726 OPS and had been dropped from the leadoff spot to No. 2 earlier this month. Sizemore did hit a solo homer off Sabathia on Saturday night.

"I'm not going to [blame the elbow]," he said last week. "At times you might compensate for what you have going on, but I've been swinging the bat better lately and still have the pain. So that's a pretty good indicator that I wasn't struggling because that was going on."

Sans Sizemore, the Indians figure to give more starts to rookie Trevor Crowe, who can fill in at center field. Ben Francisco has become the de facto center fielder, but he can play all three outfield spots. Gimenez is now an option for Wedge in left field and right field, as well as behind the plate and at first base.

In 39 games at Columbus, the 26-year-old Gimenez made 24 starts at catcher, 11 in the outfield and three at first base.

"To begin the year, I was catching about five days a week and playing outfield and first base the other days," Gimenez said. "The last couple weeks, I've been primarily in left field and catching two or three days a week and playing first base once a week."

Asked what he expects his role to be with the Tribe, Gimenez said: "I'll be doing everything here."

A 19th-round pick in the 2004 First-Year Player Draft, Gimenez was originally signed to play third base. His ever-improving versatility made him a favorite of Wedge during Spring Training camp this year. But Gimenez wasn't off to the most dynamic of starts at Columbus at the plate, as he was hitting .235 with six homers, 15 RBIs and a .749 OPS at the time of his promotion.

Martinez was taken to nearby Lutheran Hospital after leaving Saturday's game after the first inning. X-rays on his knee were negative. The catcher said that he is receiving ice treatment and can do squats in the pool, but is still very sore and was unsure when he'd be ready to play again.

With Travis Hafner on the DL and still experiencing shoulder soreness on his rehab assignment at Columbus, the Indians' three biggest offensive threats are all hobbling.

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.