CLEVELAND -- Indians catcher Carlos Santana had been tapping his front foot at the beginning of his swing for as long as he can remember.
"All of my life," Santana said on Tuesday, prior to homering in a 6-2 win over the A's.
How was it so easy, then, for the Indians to convince Santana to stop using the technique?
"It's a lot easier when you allow the guys to hit rock bottom a little bit," Indians manager Manny Acta said.
Since late May, when Acta and former hitting coach Jon Nunnally talked Santana into stopping the tapping timing mechanism, the catcher and part-time first baseman has experienced more success in the batter's box. If there was a transitional period for Santana, he appears to be over it.
Over 80 games dating to May 31 in Toronto, where Santana eliminated the toe tap as a way to reduce the amount of body movement in his swing, he has hit .258 with 15 homers and 45 RBIs. He began Tuesday with a .350 on-base percentage and a .485 slugging percentage in that span.
In his first 47 games of the season preceding the move, Santana hit .214/.350/.371 with six home runs and 22 RBIs for Cleveland.
"The first time I used the no tap, it was in Toronto," Santana said. "They said this is an approach I needed to do. I've kept continuing it. I don't think about it. It's just see the ball and swing hard. Right now, I feel like normal. I feel normal, like I did when I used the tap."
Santana added that fellow big league hitters Robinson Cano, David Ortiz and Melky Cabrera were among those who encouraged him to listen to his hitting coach's advice about ridding of the toe tap. The catcher hit .324 in his first 10 games after making the switch, then faded with a .206 average over the next 37 games.
The switch-hitting Santana is batting .292 in the 33 games since that slide.
"He's not a finished product yet," Acta said. "We all know that. That [average is] going to come. ... He's got some work to do still from the left side."
Sizemore will begin rehab stint on Wednesday
CLEVELAND -- Sidelined center fielder Grady Sizemore predicted that he would begin a Minor League rehab assignment by the end of this week. On Sunday, Indians head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff said such a prognostication was not inconceivable.
It has become a certainty.
On Tuesday, it was revealed that Sizemore will begin a rehab assignment with Double-A Akron on Wednesday, when he'll serve as the Aeros' designated hitter. He will man center field for six innings on Thursday and will be reevaluated on a daily basis after that.
Akron's eight-game homestand wraps up on Thursday, so manager Manny Acta said Sizemore could join another Minor League squad before returning to the big league club. Triple-A Columbus plays at home on Friday and Saturday.
"Chances are, he'll stay [at Akron] for a few games, and then probably move to one of those other teams," Acta said.
Sizemore landed on the 15-day disabled list on July 18 after he sustained a right knee contusion and had surgery to correct a sports hernia. This week, the 29-year-old completed various baserunning drills, agility exercises and took batting practice, all without any setbacks.
"Everything has been good," Sizemore said. "We've given it as much time as we can to heal, and now it's time to ramp it up."
Sizemore has played in just 200 games over the last three seasons. Suffice it to say, he's eager to return to the diamond.
"I want to be back as soon as I can," Sizemore said, "and get out there and see how it feels, get my legs underneath me, get some games in in the outfield, get some swings in and see some pitches. I'm ready to go."
If the Indians were floundering in last place, 20 games in back of the American League Central Division leader, perhaps Sizemore wouldn't be as adamant about rushing back to the field. Instead, they entered Tuesday 5 1/2 games behind the Tigers in the Central. Still, Sizemore plans to listen to his body and play things cautiously.
"We're in a race right now, and there's definitely a sense of urgency to get back as soon as I can," Sizemore said. "I don't want to put my body at risk; I don't want to rush anything. I'm going to play it smart but also be as aggressive as I can ... to get back as soon as I can.
"We'll see how it goes, but hopefully, I'll be back here pretty soon. I don't want to waste any time. I want to get back here and get back in the lineup."
Hegan, Score receive Frick nominations
CLEVELAND -- Mike Hegan and Herb Score have been nominated as candidates for the 2012 Ford C. Frick Award for excellence in baseball broadcasting.
Score, who died in 2008, served as the radio voice of the Indians from 1968-1997. He was inducted into the Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 1998.
Hegan has been a part of the Indians' TV and radio broadcasts since 1989. Since 2007, he has worked exclusively on the team's radio broadcast.
Fans can take part in online voting for the award beginning at 10 a.m. ET on Thursday at the Hall of Fame's Facebook site. and concluding at 5 p.m. ET on Sept. 30.
In the fall, a 20-member electorate will vote on the final 10-name ballot that will be used to determine the 2012 Frick Award winner, who will be honored in Cooperstown during Hall of Fame Weekend from July 20-23, 2012.
Quote to note
"We can only do so much when it comes down to taking pressure off of people. You are a run producer. You play a corner spot. You're a right-hander with power. There's only so much we can do to put them into a position where they can have success. Part of a big trade. If you let all that affect you, then that's on you." --Indians manager Manny Acta, on first baseman Matt LaPorta
Infielder Jason Donald was back in the starting lineup for the Indians on Tuesday -- one day after being scratched with a right index finger injury. Donald, who went 1-for-4, had his hand struck by a grounder during Sunday's game against the Royals and had issues throwing during pregame drills on Monday.
On Tuesday, Triple-A Columbus manager Mike Sarbaugh was named the International League's Manager of the Year. Sarbaugh previously won Manager of the Year honors in 2010 (Baseball America), 2009 (Eastern League) and 2007 (Carolina League). Columbus was 85-53, entering Tuesday.
The Indians finished Tuesday 5-8 in 13 one-run games in August. On the season, the Tribe has played 47 games that have been decided by one run, posting a 23-34 record. The 47 one-run affairs were the third-most in the American League, trailing the Royals (50) and Angels (49).
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. Zack Meisel is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.