COLUMBUS, Ohio -- As the temperature threatens to reach triple digits in the Phoenix area this week, the Indians have left their spring home and are getting themselves re-acquainted with Cleveland and its early-season elements.
On Wednesday afternoon, light snow flurries danced through a brisk breeze as the Tribe took the field at Huntington Park -- home of the club's Triple-A affiliate in Columbus -- before the snow intensified and forced the cancellation of the exhibition game against the Clippers in the third inning, with the score tied at 1.
Sitting in the third-base dugout prior to the game, Indians manager Manny Acta welcomed the climate change.
"I think it's good to have these two days before the season starts," said Acta, his hands shoved inside his jacket. "I'd rather do it this way than just fly straight from Arizona to Cleveland and start playing."
Come Friday, when the Indians host the rival White Sox in a 3:05 p.m. ET affair on Opening Day, the temperature should be up a few ticks and no snow is currently in the forecast. That is good news for Cleveland and its lineup, which was officially revealed by Acta before Wednesday's game.
As expected, center fielder Michael Brantley will open the year as the Tribe's leadoff man with Grady Sizemore (left knee) set to begin on the disabled list. Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, who was out of the lineup on Wednesday, is expected to serve as the Indians' regular No. 2 hitter.
Acta held Cabrera out of the lineup against Columbus because the shortstop is nursing a sore right thumb, which was struck by a ground ball during a Cactus League game on Tuesday. Acta said Cabrera will take part in Thursday's team workout, and he should be cleared for Opening Day.
"He's good to play," Acta said. "He's fine."
The heart of the lineup will include right fielder Shin-Soo Choo batting third, catcher Carlos Santana hitting fourth and designated hitter Travis Hafner fifth. Second baseman Orlando Cabrera, left fielder Austin Kearns, first baseman Matt LaPorta and third baseman Jack Hannahan will occupy the Nos. 6-9 slots, respectively.
Last season, the Indians finished with 646 runs scored, which ranked 12th in the American League and 26th overall in baseball. With players such as Santana, Hafner and Asdrubal Cabrera feeling strong after injuries, and Sizemore due back soon, the Tribe is expecting an improved offense in 2011.
"I feel so much better than last year," Acta said recently about his offense. "We feel good about our lineup."
The Indians traded infielder Jayson Nix to the Blue Jays in exchange for cash considerations on Tuesday, making good on their promise to try to find him a big league job after he did not make Cleveland's roster. "We're happy for him," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "He's going to have an opportunity to be at the Major League level, where he belongs. We're happy we were able to work that out for him." Nix would have been designated for assignment on Thursday had he not been dealt. ... Indians No. 4 starter Josh Tomlin and No. 5 starter Mitch Talbot stayed in Arizona to pitch in a Minor League game on Thursday. They will rejoin the team in Cleveland for Opening Day. ... Indians infielder Jason Donald (fractured left finger) was with the club for its exhibition game on Wednesday in Columbus, Ohio, and will remain with the team through its upcoming homestand. After being cleared to resume batting practice, Donald will need to complete a Minor League rehab assignment before rejoining the Indians officially. Donald was officially placed on the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday. ... Center fielder Grady Sizemore (left knee) and right-hander Joe Smith (strained abdominal muscle) were also placed on the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday. Sizemore and Smith will be with Cleveland during the upcoming homestand. Outfielder Trevor Crowe (right rotator cuff) was placed on the 60-day disabled list. The Indians also recalled infielder Jared Goedert (strained abdominal muscle) from Triple-A Columbus and placed him on the 60-day DL. ... Prior to Wednesday, Cleveland's 40-man roster stood at 38. By placing Crowe and Goedert on the 60-day DL, two more spots were opened. That cleared room for reliever Justin Germano, outfielder Travis Buck, third baseman Jack Hannahan and infielder Adam Everett, who made the club as non-roster invitees this spring, to have their contracts officially purchased on Wednesday for inclusion on the Opening Day roster.