CLEVELAND -- Tony Sipp does not plan on resting on his laurels after a handful of successful relief appearances, but the Indians left-hander is happy to finally see some progress after experiencing some early-season struggles.
"It feels really good," Sipp said on Wednesday. "Just to even put a dent into everything -- stats, ego -- no one likes to go out there and have a rough one every time. These last few have been a step in the right direction. It's a start.
"I'm still not satisfied. I'm still not content with the little bit that I've done recently, but it helps to start somewhere, and I'm just happy I'm at least on the right track."
Over his past four outings, Sipp has posted a 2.70 ERA with an opponents' batting average of .091 over 3 1/3 innings. It is a small sample, but that showing shaved his season ERA down to 9.53 from 21.60. Overall, Sipp has appeared in eight games out of the Tribe's bullpen, giving up six runs on seven hits with six strikeouts and three walks in 5 2/3 innings.
Indians manager Manny Acta said it has been good to see Sipp show improvement.
"He's had about three or four now in a row where he's been good," Acta said. "We need him. We know how big he's been for us the last couple of years. I feel now that he's gotten back. Three good outings in a row pretty much would help anybody."
Last season, Sipp went 6-3 with a 3.03 ERA as a left-handed setup man for the Indians. Over 69 games, the lefty struck out 57 and walked 24 over 62 1/3 innings. The southpaw said his primary issue early this year was finishing off hitters after working ahead in the count.
"A lot of it, I think, was just trying to have that put-away pitch," Sipp said. "I was ahead most of the time, trying to do like an 0-2 or a 1-2 pitch that didn't quite get out of the zone, and I got hurt that way. It's been more about finishing guys off and staying aggressive."
Sipp said it has helped to be surrounded by a group of strong relievers.
"Definitely. You can kind of hide behind those guys when you're struggling," he said. "I think my stats would be a lot worse without them. Joe Smith stranded a couple guys for me. When you're struggling, you've got those guys behind you that you know will come in and get the job done. But, in the same sense, you want to contribute to that also."
Choo day to day with left hamstring injury
CLEVELAND -- Shin-Soo Choo's name was missing from the Indians' lineup card on Wednesday afternoon, and the ballclub is expecting that to remain the case over the next few days. Choo is sidelined with a left hamstring issue, but it is not believed to be too serious.
Tribe manager Manny Acta does not believe a stint on the disabled list will be necessary.
"We're not expecting that," Acta said prior to Wednesday's game against the Royals. "But, hey, we've seen cases like that in the past. Our medical staff feels that it's just a mild tightness and he's much better today. They don't see it that way. He didn't pull it."
With Choo sidelined, the Indians gave backup outfielder Aaron Cunningham the nod in right field for Wednesday's game at Progressive Field. Under the circumstances, super utility man Jason Donald -- primarily an infielder -- would step into the role of fourth outfielder.
Through 15 games this season, Choo has hit .237 with no home runs, five doubles and nine RBIs.
Acta noted that Cleveland had no plans to promote recently signed outfielder Johnny Damon, who is currently training at the team's complex in Goodyear, Ariz. Damon was signed on April 17 and is expected to play in Minor League games prior to transitioning to the Major League team.
"We're going to make sure that Johnny is right physically," Acta said.
Acta indicated that Choo tweaked his left hamstring while running to second base on a grounder hit by Carlos Santana in the sixth inning of Tuesday's 4-3 win over the Royals. The Tribe's medical staff also noticed that Choo did not run as hard as he normally might on a play in the outfield.
"We could tell that he went kind of slow after a ball ... hit to right-center field," Acta said. "So we were approached by the training staff and we talked to him and he just felt it was sore. If it was up to him, he probably would've stayed out there."
The Indians are not sure when Choo will be ready to rejoin the lineup.
"We don't have a timetable. It's day to day," Acta said. "Our medical staff feels that it's probably just a couple of days. He showed up today feeling a lot better than we were anticipating."
Indians put bad blood with Royals in past
CLEVELAND -- The Indians insist that the bad blood that boiled over in their previous meeting with the Royals is ancient history. Maybe so, but a few eyebrows were raised when Kansas City lefty Jonathan Sanchez hit Jason Kipnis with a pitch in the first inning of Tuesday's game at Progressive Field.
The players inside the Tribe's dugout did not think much of the errant offering, though.
"It never crossed anybody's mind," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "He was just lacking control."
That was evident as Sanchez continued to labor throughout his outing during Cleveland's 4-3 victory on Tuesday night. The left-hander finished with seven walks and one hit batsman over 4 2/3 innings during which he threw only 56 of his 115 pitches for strikes.
As for the pitch that struck Kipnis in the first inning?
"That was a curveball," Indians third baseman Jack Hannahan. "That stuff is over and done with. We're just playing baseball."
The stuff Hannahan referenced occurred on April 14 in Kansas City. Sanchez hit Shin-Soo Choo with a pitch -- one season after breaking the Tribe right fielder's left thumb with an ill-fated offering -- leading to a bench-clearing incident. Later in the game, Indians starter Jeanmar Gomez hit Mike Moustakas with a pitch, earning an ejection and a five-game suspension.
Acta, Hannahan and Gomez were all tossed from that ballgame, which included two bench-clearing altercations. Only Gomez received a suspension from Major League Baseball, but Hannahan and closer Chris Perez were each hit with fines. Perez's fine stemmed from a postgame tweet in which he wrote, "You hit us, we hit you. Period."
Acta noted that Sanchez was simply wild with his pitches.
"A lot of these guys, they just don't see what we see as coaches at times," Acta said. "He was missing a lot around the strike zone. He was effectively wild [Tuesday], basically. I think after last time, they grasped it. There are times when he's going to be a little erratic."
Quote to note
"We played well at home last year. This is where we're supposed to play well. You can't be expecting to be a road warrior. Only a few teams can do that during a season, so we need to play better baseball here. This is our field. These are our fans. Home cooking. Home bed. Whatever you want to call it."
-- Indians manager Manny Acta
Indians outfielder Grady Sizemore resumed baseball activities (throwing and running the bases) this week in his comeback from lower back surgery. Manager Manny Acta added that Sizemore has also been running in an anti-gravity treadmill that alleviates stress on the legs and back. The outfielder is not eligible to be activated from the 60-day disabled list until June 3.
Michael Brantley, who was out of Tuesday's starting lineup with soreness in his right wrist, was back as the Tribe's leadoff man and center fielder for Wednesday's game against the Royals. Manager Manny Acta said Brantley simply need 48 hours of rest for his hand.
Indians veteran Derek Lowe has enjoyed pitching in Cleveland. With his win on Tuesday night, Lowe lowered his home ERA to 0.69 on the year, which is the third-lowest qualifying mark in the American League. For his career, Lowe has gone 3-2 with a 2.15 ERA at Progressive Field.
Since allowing three runs in a blown save on Opening Day, Indians closer Chris Perez has notched seven consecutive saves with a 1.23 ERA over eight appearances. Entering Wednesday, Perez's seven saves were tied for the Major League lead.