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03/25/10 8:06 PM ET
Indians field potential Opening Day lineup
Club's final makeup depends on Branyan's availability
By Anthony Castrovince / MLB.com
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Manager Manny Acta had said he wanted to get a look at his regulars following the Indians' lone off-day of the Cactus League calendar, and he lived up to his word Thursday. The lineup Acta turned in against the Mariners had Opening Day potential. It read like this: SS Asdrubal Cabrera, CF Grady Sizemore, RF Shin-Soo Choo, DH Travis Hafner, 3B Jhonny Peralta, 1B Matt LaPorta, 2B Luis Valbuena, C Lou Marson, LF Michael Brantley. Is that how it will look in a week and a half? "We'll see," Acta said with a smile. "April 5." The lingering question is whether Russell Branyan will be there April 5 in Chicago. Branyan, who has yet to appear in a spring exhibition because of a herniated disc in his lower back, is still a question mark. He took soft toss and was in the dugout for Thursday's game, but the Indians have not yet decided if he'll play the final week of Cactus games. If he doesn't, then chalk him up as a DL candidate for the start of the season and consider Brantley a strong possibility to make the team. LaPorta, meanwhile, has seen all his time at first base this spring. Fully recovered from October surgeries on his left hip and left big toe, LaPorta would move to left field if Branyan is ready to go. So far, that transition hasn't taken place. "He doesn't need to work out in left field as much as he does at first base," Acta said. As for the rest of the lineup, it all seems secure, and Acta was pleased with Thursday's end result, a 3-1 victory. "We won," Acta said with another smile. "We faced a tough cookie [Mariners ace Felix Hernandez], the guys hung in there and we ended up winning the ballgame."
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.