GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- New Tribe manager Manny Acta believes having a guy like Grady Sizemore in the leadoff spot of a lineup is a luxury. A luxury, Acta reasoned, that the Indians can't afford right now. Acta has decided to place Sizemore, a three-time All-Star and a Silver Slugger winner in 2008, in the No. 2 slot of his lineup, with shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera taking over the leadoff slot. Part of the reasoning behind the move is the absence of a middle-of-the-order presence like Victor Martinez, who was dealt to the Red Sox last year.
"We need to lengthen our lineup," Acta explained Saturday. Acta has had this move in mind since he took over the job in October. But he waited until he could talk to Sizemore in person to make it official. "You don't just send messages through the press," Acta said. "We owed him a lot of respect." Sizemore was told of the move last week and had a few days to think about it. Ultimately, he had no trouble signing off on it. "It's fine," Sizemore said. "I've always said I don't really care where I hit in the lineup. Manny wanted my opinion on it, and I said it's fine. I just want to do what's best for the team. This is what he believes and what we feel is going to be what's best." Right fielder Shin-Soo Choo and designated hitter Travis Hafner will follow Cabrera and Sizemore in Acta's lineup. The rest is not confirmed, though it's probably safe to assume newly acquired first baseman Russell Branyan and third baseman Jhonny Peralta will be somewhere in the middle. While the Sizemore move generated a bit of a buzz in an otherwise quiet camp, it is hardly without precedent. Acta's predecessor, Eric Wedge, tried Sizemore in the No. 2 spot for about five weeks total last season -- the two weeks before Sizemore went on the disabled list with a bum elbow in early June and the last few weeks before the All-Star break. Cabrera moved up to No. 1 before injuring his shoulder, at which point Jamey Carroll took over the primary leadoff duties for a spell. After the break, Sizemore was back at leadoff. Also, in August of '07, Wedge briefly had Sizemore batting third, with Kenny Lofton in the leadoff spot, but that experiment was abandoned quickly. Sizemore said the latest alteration to his spot in the order won't affect his approach at the plate. "I'm not going to change my approach in any way," he said. "[Manny] doesn't want me to. It's just what he thinks is going to help us offensively to score more runs." Because of Sizemore's power potential (he hit a career-high 33 homers in 2008), fans have long been clamoring for him to move down in the order, where he'd have more RBI situations.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.