KANSAS CITY -- This weekend has served as a long-awaited homecoming for Jerad Head. Once an undrafted ballplayer hardly considered a prospect of any sort, Head arrived at Kauffman Stadium this weekend as a rookie outfielder for the Indians.
"It was a long road, but well worth it," Head said. "Now, it's not just being content being up here. I've got an opportunity and I'm trying to take full advantage of it."
Head was born in Topeka, Kan., roughly 70 miles west of the Royals' home ballpark. He attended Hayden High School and then Washburn College in Topeka. His local ties led to a host of friends and family, including his parents and fiancee, showing up this weekend to watch him play for Cleveland.
They all got to watch Head collect his first Major League RBI on a second-inning double in Sunday's finale against the Royals.
The 28-year-old Head signed with the Indians as an amateur free agent in August 2005, and it took six years of Minor League ascension before his dream culminated in a Major League promotion. As fate would have it, Head went 1-for-3 in his big league debut on Aug. 28. Naturally, the Tribe was playing Kansas City.
"My debut was against the Royals," Head said with a smile. "Then, coming here with friends and family from this area -- I grew up in this area -- it's been nice."
Entering Sunday's finale against the Royals at Kauffman Stadium, Head was only 1-for-19 as a Major Leaguer. He was a standout performer this season for Triple-A Columbus, though, hitting .284 with 24 home runs and 70 RBIs over 114 games.
Indians manager Manny Acta said welcoming Head to the Majors was a great moment.
"It's always a special time for us coaches and managers," Acta said, "to do that for guys that the odds have never been very good to make it up here, at least in the eyes of people who are evaluating them. He's a guy who has never given up on his dreams, and he achieved it.
"He has a lot of fans down there in our farm system, too, because of the way he goes about his business. You just have to keep pushing, and he did. Opportunity knocked on his door, and he's here."
Sizemore could return as soon as Monday
KANSAS CITY -- Reinforcements are on their way for the injury-plagued Indians.
On Sunday, Indians manager Manny Acta indicated that center fielder Grady Sizemore and second baseman Jason Kipnis are on target to come off the disabled list some time during this coming week.
Cleveland is set to begin a critical three-game series against the first-place Tigers on Monday at Progressive Field.
"I think at some point," Acta said, "we're going to be able to add both of them."
At least one of Sizemore and Kipnis -- perhaps both -- could be activated prior to Monday's division showdown with Detroit. Of the two, Sizemore appears to be the more likely candidate.
Sizemore, who aggravated a right knee injury on July 17 and then underwent a sports hernia operation four days later, played in a Minor League rehab game with Triple-A Columbus on Saturday. The center fielder went 1-for-5 at the plate, made a diving attempt in the outfield and came away feeling fine.
"He had a good game," Acta said. "He had five at-bats. He had an opportunity to dive for a ball and everything and everything was OK. So he'll take the day off [Sunday] and we'll go from there."
Getting Sizemore back would provide a boost for a Cleveland outfielder that included right fielder Kosuke Fukudome plus rookies Jerad Head and Ezequiel Carrera for Sunday's game in Kansas City. Left fielder Michael Brantley (right wrist) and right fielder Shin-Soo Choo (left oblique) are also on the 15-day disabled list right now.
Acta also noted that Kipnis -- on the 15-day DL with a right hamstring injury -- is also on pace to rejoin the Indians within a week.
"He's on target," Acta said. "He took ground balls and didn't feel any pain or anything. He continues to work with [head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff] and hopefully this week we'll be able to add him to our team."
Kipnis injured his hamstring while stretching prior to Cleveland's road game against the White Sox on Aug. 18. Prior to that setback, the rookie second baseman had missed the previous four games with a right oblique issue. In 18 games for the Tribe this year, Kipnis has hit . 279 with six homers and 11 RBIs.
When Kipnis is cleared to rejoin the team, he will resume his role as the team's regular second baseman.
"Kipnis is our second baseman if he's healthy," Acta said. "Unless our medical staff recommends that he needs certain days off, he's our second baseman. When he went down, he was playing every day for us."
Asdrubal back in action for finale
KANSAS CITY -- Asdrubal Cabrera fouled a pitch off his left knee, but the Indians dodged a bullet.
On Sunday, Cabrera was back at shortstop and in the three-hole in the Cleveland lineup -- two days after knee pain forced him off the field. Given the pile of health woes that have consumed the Tribe's roster of late, getting Cabrera back so soon was a blessing for the embattled ballclub.
"It didn't hit him directly in the bone," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "So that was a break we caught there. He's been just a gamer the whole season. He has played through a lot of minor injuries and stayed out there."
Cabrera fouled a pitch from Royals lefty Bruce Chen off his left knee during the third inning of Friday's 5-4 victory at Kauffman Stadium. Cabrera went on to homer in the same plate appearance, but the shortstop left the game in the home half of the third after pain persisted in his knee.
Cabrera received a day off on Saturday, when the Indians were forced to field a lineup that featured four rookies and five players in all who have spent much of this season with Triple-A Columbus. Cleveland is currently playing without Michael Brantley, Grady Sizemore, Shin-Soo Choo, Travis Hafner and Jason Kipnis due to various injuries.
The Tribe could ill-afford to lose Cabrera, who started for the American League All-Star team this season and entered Sunday hitting .278 with team highs in home runs (22), RBIs (80) and runs scored (79).
"It would've been a big blow if we would've lost him," Acta said.
Quote to note
"You know when it's going to be too little, too late? When they put an 'X' next to our name in the standings. That's the way I think." --Indians manager Manny Acta, on his team's chances of making the playoffs
The Indians are holding out hope that designated hitter Travis Hafner (right foot) will be able to come off the disabled list before the end of the month. Hafner still has a few hurdles to clear in his recovery process.
"He needs to progress to batting practice on the field," manager Manny Acta said. "We're expecting him to be joining us, but I don't think he's as close as [Jason] Kipnis and Grady [Sizemore]."
Designated hitter Jim Thome went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts in Saturday's 5-1 loss to the Royals. Thome has had two four-strikeout games this season (the other came on July 19 against the White Sox) after not having any such performances all of last year. The Tribe fell to 6-1 in games with Thome in the lineup this season.
All upper deck seats for Tuesday's home game against the Tigers will only cost $5. Fans can take advantage of the reduced rate at the Progressive Field ticket office, any Indians Team Shop or online at Indians.com (using the password "diamond").