ANAHEIM -- Grady Sizemore is close to rejoining the Indians, ending a grueling rehab process after microfracture surgery on his left knee, but the club is still not ready to say when exactly the center fielder will be back.
"Believe me," Acta said on Wednesday, "we'll announce it with enough time so we can get Grady's ladies at the ballpark. That's a big boost."
Kidding aside, Sizemore appeared in back-to-back Minor League games with Double-A Akron on Monday and Tuesday, completing one of the final tests in his rehab program. Sizemore is now slated to join Triple-A Columbus to continue his rehab on Thursday.
The Indians' offense has performed well out of the gates this season, helping the club run to an 8-3 record through Tuesday. Acta was hardly worried that activating Sizemore from the 15-day disabled list would hinder the progress made to this point by the team's lineup.
"Grady adds so much," Acta said. "Everybody feels the energy when he's around. He's the face of this franchise still. He brings a lot to the table, not only his defense, but his offense. He brings some power with him. He can only make us better."
When Sizemore returns, he will take over in center field, forcing Michael Brantley to move to left field. Acta has not revealed whether Sizemore will also assume Brantley's current role as the team's leadoff hitter.
Asked if he'd inform Grady's ladies of Sizemore's lineup position before alerting the media, Acta laughed.
"I don't think they care where he hits," Acta said, "as long as he's in uniform at the ballpark."
LaPorta feels he's progressing at plate
ANAHEIM -- Matt LaPorta is focusing on the big picture and not on the numbers in the box scores. The Indians' first baseman has had an inconsistent start at the plate, but he still feels he has made progress early on.
"I've felt good," LaPorta said. "I'm really feeling like my approach has been pretty good. I've had some really good at-bats, I feel like. That's the main thing we're working on is that consistency of having great at-bats over the course of a season."
The more consistent his at-bats are as the season wears, the more LaPorta's production will improve. At least that is the hope. Entering Wednesday's game against the Angels, the first baseman was hitting just .219 with two home runs and six RBIs for Cleveland.
It is a small sample size, but that showing also follows a Spring Training in which LaPorta hit just .153 over 20 Cactus League contests. Indians manager Manny Acta has repeatedly pointed out that LaPorta was working on things throughout the preseason.
LaPorta echoed that explanation.
"It was a little more mechanical in Spring Training," LaPorta said. "I was really trying to make sure my legs and my hands were working together. As you get into the season, you're going to continue to refine those skills and get better.
"It was kind of more getting back to what I've done in the past, how I hit in the past. Last year, I kind of got off track a little bit. We're just trying to find what's worked for me in the past."
LaPorta, coming off hip and toe surgeries at the time, hit .221 with 12 homers and 41 RBIs in 110 games with the Tribe last season. He had a normal offseason prior to this past spring, giving him a chance to regain strength in his lower half. LaPorta is hoping that leads to a strong showing this year.
"It's the regular season now," LaPorta said. "It's time to put what you worked on in Spring Training into practice. You can't be thinking about, 'Where are my feet? Where are my hands?' Now, it's time to hit."
With Smith's return, 'pen should be stronger
ANAHEIM -- Indians manager Manny Acta is not worried that the pending return of reliever Joe Smith will disrupt the early success of the club's bullpen. Acta is confident that Smith will only make the group better.
"[Smith] pitched well for us in the second half of last season," Acta said on Wednesday. "He's got some Major League experience, and we think he's a very good situational right-handed pitcher."
Acta noted that Smith, sidelined with a strained upper abdominal muscle since early in the spring, will likely be activated from the 15-day disabled list this weekend. Following an off-day on Thursday, Cleveland is set to host Baltimore in a three-game series beginning on Friday.
Smith, who has been rehabbing with Double-A Akron, pitched on Tuesday, marking his second appearance in as many days. Smith struck out two in one clean inning of work, and the reports were good after his outing.
"He's getting closer," Acta said. "He's fine. He kept his velocity. He felt good."
With Smith's return nearing, the Indians will need to make a subsequent roster move involving the relief corps. The most vulnerable relievers appear to be Justin Germano, Frank Herrmann and Vinnie Pestano. Of the three, only Germano does not have Minor League options remaining.
One way or another, Smith will be back as soon as he is deemed ready.
"That's part of the game," Acta said. "We're just going to have to make a move."
Choo assuming leadership role for Tribe
ANAHEIM -- Before the season began, Indians manager Manny Acta told Shin-Soo Choo not to be afraid to step up as a leader in the clubhouse. The Tribe's star right fielder took a big step in that direction on Tuesday night.
Following Cleveland's 1-0 loss to the Angels, a defeat that snapped the Indians' eight-game winning streak, Choo went around to teammates in the locker room, telling them to stay positive. He said his message was simply, "We'll start it again tomorrow."
Acta liked hearing about Choo's effort in the clubhouse.
"It's good to have," Acta said. "He's one of those guys we spoke to during the offseason and during Spring Training about feeling more freedom about taking a leadership role. He's not afraid. He's done it, starting in Spring Training, and it's good. It means a lot coming from one of their peers."
After the loss, Choo said he was confident that the Indians could continue to win games like they did over their eight-game streak.
"I look at this team, how we're winning games right now," Choo said. "The hitters, everybody is having tough at-bats. They're making pitchers throw a lot, and the defense is good. The starting pitchers, relievers, they've done a really good job. I've got a lot of confidence in this team."
Infielder Jason Donald (left hand) will continue his Minor League rehab assignment with Triple-A Columbus on Thursday. Donald had been playing with Double-A Akron over the past few days. ... After opening the season 0-2, Cleveland ran off eight consecutive wins. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Cleveland is the first American League team to win at least eight games in a row after an 0-2 start. Since 1900, the only other team to accomplish the feat was the 1972 Astros, who won nine in a row after beginning that season with an 0-2 record. ... Beginning Tuesday, the Indians will announced a weekly "Minor League Player of the Week" award. Every player in the Tribe's Minor League system will be eligible for the weekly honor. ... Through 11 games, the Indians' bullpen has limited hitters to a .184 (19-for-103) average. ... Catcher Carlos Santana has played in every game up to this point for Cleveland. He has made 10 starts behind the plate and one each at first base and designated hitter.