CHICAGO -- Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has had Tuesday's game in Chicago circled on his calendar since being promoted to the big leagues. It would be Kipnis' first chance to play in front of family and friends back in his old stomping grounds.
Unfortunately, a pesky right oblique injury is spoiling Kipnis' homecoming.
"I've been wanting to come back to my hometown and play in front of everyone," Kipnis said. "But you've go to put the team first and put myself second. It stinks if they come and I won't be able to play, but we don't want two games to turn into 28 or anything like that.
"We're in a race. We've got to play this safe, and hopefully we can get back and contribute as soon as possible."
Prior to Tuesday's 8-7, 14-inning loss against the White Sox, Kipnis played catch in right field with manager Manny Acta before running through a handful of fielding drills. The rookie second baseman also ran in the outfield and hit in the indoor batting cage to test his ailing side. Kipnis hopes to take regular batting practice on Wednesday.
Kipnis said he was encouraged by his progress physically, but he remained out of the starting lineup for the third consecutive game.
"He progressed to baseball activities today and he looked well," Acta said on Tuesday. "He's getting treatment and we're going to evaluate him when he shows up tomorrow and go from there."
The sooner the Indians can get Kipnis back, the better it will be for the offense.
In his first 18 games with the Tribe, Kipnis has hit .279 with six homers, four doubles, 11 RBIs and 14 runs scored.
"He's not intimidated," Acta said. "He has brought a spark for us offensively in a time when we really needed it."
Kipnis did not believe the disabled list was a possibility at this point.
"I haven't had any conversations about that," he said.
Kipnis would rather talk about which game in Chicago he will be playing in the next two days.
"Today was encouraging," Kipnis said. "Hopefully, tomorrow we'll make even more progress."
Tribe happy to get draftees in the fold
CHICAGO -- The Indians' negotiations with first-rounder Francisco Lindor did not go down to the last second on Monday night. The contract talks were wrapped up well before the signing deadline's arrival.
Cleveland had at least 90 seconds to spare.
"We probably came to an agreement about a minute and a half or two minutes before the deadline," said Brad Grant, the Indians' director of amateur scouting.
As the clock ticked down to midnight ET, the Indians certainly had some worry that a deal would come to fruition with Lindor, who was selected eighth overall in the First-Year Player Draft in June. Within that uncertainty, though, was a confidence -- based on conversations with the young shortstop -- that Lindor wanted to turn pro.
Sure enough, shortly before the deadline, the Indians officially inked the 17-year-old Lindor to a contract that included a $2.9 million signing bonus. It was the second-highest bonus given to a drafted player in team history, falling just $100,000 shy of the team record $3 million bonus handed to pitcher Jeremy Guthrie in 2002.
Cleveland also signed its second-round pick, right-hander Dillon Howard, with a signing bonus worth $1.85 million. Right-hander Shawn Armstrong (selected in the 20th round) also signed before Monday's deadline. In all, the Indians signed 29 of their 50 selections.
"We're very happy," Grant said on Tuesday, "that we were able to come to terms with Francisco Lindor, Dillon Howard and Shawn Armstrong last night. It was from the work of all of our scouts. It just didn't come together at the end last night. This was a process that began last June."
Grant noted that Lindor, who has not been playing in games this summer, was scheduled to report to short-season Mahoning Valley on Wednesday. The current plan calls for Lindor to work out with the team for a period of time before transitioning into games.
The Indians were still working out a plan for the 18-year-old Howard, who had been pitching for the Midland Redskins during their recent run to the Connie Mack World Series title. Howard will head to instructional league, but Cleveland is currently determining if he will first join an affiliate to pitch in games.
Brantley back in lineup, leading off
CHICAGO -- Outfielder Michael Brantley showed enough progress over the past two days to convince the Indians that he did not need to be placed on the disabled list.
On Tuesday, Brantley was back in the leadoff spot and manning left field for Cleveland after fighting a sore right wrist for much of the past two weeks. Indians manager Manny Acta said Brantley responded well to having two days off, which included a scheduled off-day on Monday and a rainout in Cleveland on Sunday.
"We feel that he's ready to play," Acta said on Tuesday. "He's had enough time, especially with the rainout. ... He hasn't had any issues in batting practice. It bothers him when he misses. Those guys, they don't swing and miss often in batting practice. We only noticed in the past, he's grimacing and all that when he's swung and missed at certain pitches out of the zone.
"We're going to have to see, but we feel he's had enough time with the medicine and rest that hopefully that helped him."
Prior to Tuesday's 8-7 loss in 14 innings against the White Sox, Brantley was out of the lineup for seven of the Tribe's previous 11 games, including Sunday's postponement against the Twins. Brantley has worn a brace during hitting sessions at times, and he was given anti-inflammatories to help treat the discomfort.
"It's the dog days of August," said Lonnie Soloff, the Indians' head athletic trainer. "Guys are grinding it out. He had some inflammation in his wrist, but we kept him quiet for a few days and he's pleased with how he's feeling now."
Entering Tuesday, Brantley was hitting .270 with seven homers, 21 doubles, 44 RBIs and 59 runs scored in 107 games for the Indians this season.Brantley went 3-for-6 in the contest, scoring two runs.
Sizemore back to baseball activities
CHICAGO -- There is still no established timetable for Grady Sizemore's return from the disabled list, but the Indians center fielder has resumed baseball activities in his recovery from a mix of injuries.
Cleveland is hopeful that Sizemore will be ready at some point in September.
"He's doing well," Lonnie Soloff, the Indians' head athletic trainer, said on Tuesday at U.S. Cellular Field. "We're just pleased that he's progressed as well as he has to this point."
Soloff indicated that Sizemore, who has been bothered by a right knee issue and also underwent sports hernia surgery on July 21, has resumed playing catch and hitting baseballs off a tee. Soloff added that Sizemore headed to the Cleveland Cavaliers' facility in Independence, Ohio, on Tuesday to run on an anti-gravity treadmill.
The Indians have the same specialized piece of equipment at their Spring Training base in Goodyear, Ariz. The unique treadmill allows the runner to simulate running at different body weights. On Tuesday, Sizemore (listed at 200 pounds) ran at 80 percent of his body weight, or a simulation of 160 pounds.
The treadmill reduces stress on a runner's legs. Soloff said that Sizemore would run on the same machine on Thursday, but would likely progress to "land-based" running drills by the time the Indians return from their current six-day road trip through Chicago and Detroit.
"He's progressing to baseball stuff, but he's taking it slow," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "He's got to finish that sports hernia rehab and the knee is just going along. Rest is what's going to take care of the knee anyways."
Quote to note
"You lose a half season of development time. For them to sit and not play all summer, it's a disadvantage to both sides. But, unfortunately, it's part of the process. Unfortunately, because of where the signing deadline is, we run into this situation. Hopefully, in the next [collective bargaining] agreement, it's something that is rectified."
-- Indians director of amateur scouting Brad Grant, on the increasing number of draftees waiting until the last minute to sign with teams
On Tuesday, the Indians named Triple-A Columbus outfielder Chad Huffman the organization's Minor League Player of the Week for the period of Aug. 7-13. Huffman hit .615 (16-for-29) with two home runs, seven doubles, one triple and 10 RBIs over seven games. He also posted a .655 on-base percentage and a 1.192 slugging percentage for the week.
Left-hander Drew Pomeranz, who was the player to be named later in the five-player trade that brought pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez to the Indians on July 31, was officially traded to the Rockies on Tuesday. Pomeranz was ineligible to be traded until Tuesday. Cleveland also traded pitchers Alex White and Joe Gardner, as well as first baseman Matt McBride, to Colorado as part of the blockbuster swap.
Due to three rainouts this season, the Indians will play 45 games in the season's final 44 days, beginning with Tuesday's tilt against the White Sox. Cleveland only has two scheduled off-days remaining. The Tribe will also play 10 games in nine days to wrap up the season. Entering Tuesday, Cleveland had played 117 games, which was two fewer than any other team in the Majors.