CLEVELAND -- After Grady Sizemore had surgery on July 21, the Indians estimated that the center fielder would return four to six weeks later. Now, it appears Sizemore will likely remain sidelined until at least early September.

Sizemore underwent a procedure to correct a sports hernia after he was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a right knee contusion in July. The original timeframe plotted that Sizemore would suit up by Sept. 1, at the latest.

Indians manager Manny Acta said Tuesday, however, that an August return was never a realistic expectation.

"Not the end of this month, no," Acta said. "We never anticipated him being able to come back by the end of this month."

Sizemore suffered the sports hernia sliding into second base on May 10. During that slide, he also suffered the first contusion of his right knee, landing him on the 15-day disabled list.

He put off surgery to repair the hernia until he reinjured his knee, a contusion that caused Sizemore more pain than the one he suffered two months earlier.

Indians head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff hinted in July that the timetable may have been overly optimistic.

"We're cautiously optimistic that in four to six weeks he's going to return to full baseball activities," Soloff said the day of Sizemore's surgery.

The schedule of the Minor League season could further complicate Sizemore's return. The regular seasons for Class A Lake County, Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus all end on Sept. 5.

If Sizemore isn't ready to begin a Minor League rehab assignment before then, the Indians will have to think up creative ways to get their center fielder ready to face Major League pitching again. Over 60 games amid three stints on the DL, Sizemore is batting .234 with 10 homers and 29 RBIs.

For now, Sizemore is expected to regain familiarity with a baseball and, perhaps, a bat in a few days.

"By the end of the week, he can probably be playing catch and maybe taking some dry swings," Acta said.

Choo to stop at each level of Minor Leagues

CLEVELAND -- As he makes his way back from a broken left thumb, Shin-Soo Choo will get a taste of just how different the quality of pitching talent is at each Minor League level.

Choo started the process of climbing the organizational ladder Monday, beginning his rehab assignment at Class A Lake County. He went 0-for-2 with a strikeout.

"Assuming everything works out well and he feels comfortable, I would say a week of rehab games," said Indians manager Manny Acta.

After playing the outfield Monday, Choo started at designated hitter Tuesday night. He'll get the day off Wednesday so the club can evaluate his progress before advancing him to the next rung on the club ladder.

"It's going to be an everyday evaluation type of thing," Acta said. "He has to feel comfortable."

Tribe bullpen suffers rare collective setback

CLEVELAND -- The Indians were left with a taste that manager Manny Acta termed "bittersweet" after posting a 3-4 record on last week's roadtrip through Boston and Texas.

"Sweet" was the fact that the Tribe held a lead or maintained a tie in the eighth or ninth inning of all seven contests. "Bitter" was the acrid taste filling the Indians' mouths after the bullpen did not close out four of the seven games.

The Indians entered Tuesday's action with the fifth-best bullpen ERA in the American League, at 3.52. That number, however, escalated after the 'pen surrendered game-winning runs Tuesday and Wednesday in Boston and Friday and Sunday in Texas.

"We were facing two good teams," Acta said. "Unfortunately, the games that we lost, we could look at them. But also the ones that we won, they were a big part of."

Joe Smith, fifth among AL relievers with a 1.84 ERA, has allowed six runs in his past 10 1/3 innings. Before the rocky stretch, he led all AL relievers with a microscopic 0.80 ERA.

Closer Chris Perez has allowed eight earned runs (nine total) in his last 8 1/3 innings. He has just one save since the All-Star break.

Acta chalked up the bullpen's collective disappointment on the roadtrip to one of baseball's inevitabilities.

"I would say it was the cycle of the season," he said. "They've been so good; there are times when they're going to struggle."

Smoke signals

• Triple-A outfielder Jerad Head was named the organization's Minor League Player of the Week. The 28-year-old hit .393 with five home runs and 11 RBIs in six games during the week of July 31-Aug. 6. Head ranks second among International League hitters in slugging percentage (.535) and third in homers (21).

• The Indians inked another trio of Draft picks to contracts. On Monday, Cleveland signed 14th-round selection Cody Anderson, a right-handed pitcher, and 38th-round pick Yhoxian Medina, a shortstop. On Tuesday, the club agreed to terms with Brian Ruiz, a local product from Lincoln West High School in Cleveland. The outfielder was the organization's draft choice in the 41st round and is the 22nd Draft selection -- of 50 total -- to sign with the club.

"It's always nice when you can draft and potentially develop people from your own area," Indians manager Manny Acta said.

Ruiz, a native of the Dominican Republic, will report Thursday to the club's facility in Goodyear, Ariz.

"It's my hometown team, my favorite team," Ruiz said.

• Indians first baseman Matt LaPorta returned to the starting lineup Tuesday for the first time since being hit by a pitch on the left foot in the first inning of Friday's loss to the Rangers. LaPorta sat out Saturday's game and entered Sunday's contest in the eighth inning.

"He was ready to play defense last game, and coupled with the day off [Monday], he's ready to play now," Acta said.

• Acta expects Carlos Carrasco to miss three weeks, time that will include his recovery from right elbow inflammation and a six-game suspension he must serve following his activation from the 15-day disabled list. Carrasco earned the suspension after throwing over the head of Royals designated hitter Billy Butler in a start on July 29. The right-hander felt discomfort in his elbow following a seven-inning start Wednesday in Boston.