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04/05/10 12:47 PM ET

Acta hoping for quick start

Skipper appreciates second chance with Tribe

CHICAGO -- Manny Acta's managerial tenure with the Tribe might have begun in October, but it had its ceremonial start on Opening Day against the White Sox.

While Acta appreciated the significance of his first official game with the Indians, he said he appreciates every day that he has this opportunity.

"I'm thankful," he said. "I'm lucky to have a chance to win or lose in a Major League game. I could be winning or losing in an independent league."

Then he summoned his inner Seinfeld.

"Not that there's anything wrong with that," he added, careful not to offend anyone in independent leagues.

Acta, who was dismissed by the Nationals last summer only to land the Tribe job a few months later, wouldn't find anything wrong with his Indians getting off to a strong start this season. He preached the importance of such a start to his players early in spring camp, and he knows it would help fans get excited about a team that lost 97 games last year.

"We have a passionate fan base that's been turned off the last few years," Acta said. "It's important to win some games so they don't go, 'Here we go again.'"

Valbuena sits out opener

CHICAGO -- Luis Valbuena was out of the Indians' Opening Day lineup Monday, but manager Manny Acta described the second baseman's condition as "playable."

Valbuena suffered a bruised right hand when he was hit by a pitch from the Reds' Homer Bailey in the fourth inning of Saturday's Cactus League game.

"He's just a little sore," Acta said of Valbuena. "We're staying on the conservative side, but our medical staff is pleased with his progress."

Acta did not say when Valbuena would be back in the lineup.

In the meantime, veteran Mark Grudzielanek filled in as the starter at second base. Acta said the Indians will use Grudzielanek "as we see fit" this season and said Grudzielanek and Valbuena will not form a platoon at second base. Last year, Jamey Carroll usually filled in for Valbuena when a left-handed pitcher was on the mound.

Worth noting

Jake Westbrook got the Opening Day starting nod for the Indians, despite missing all of last season. How rare is this? Well, in the context of the 2010 season, It's not all that rare, as both Ben Sheets (A's) and Shaun Marcum (Blue Jays) also started the opener for their teams despite missing '09. But in the context of history, this was actually pretty rare, indeed. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it had only happened to four pitchers in the last 50 years -- Carl Pavano ('07, Yankees), Scott Erickson ('02, Orioles), Alex Fernandez ('99, Marlins) and Diego Segui ('77 Mariners). ... This marks the fifth time in the last six years that the Indians and White Sox are opening the season against each other. Only one of those meetings came in Cleveland. ... Russell Branyan (herniated disk in lower back) and Kerry Wood (strained back muscle), both of whom opened the season on the 15-day disabled list, are with the team in Chicago. Branyan is expected to join Triple-A Columbus on Thursday, when the Clippers open their 2010 season. ... This year marks the 70th anniversary of Bob Feller's Opening Day no-hitter against the White Sox -- the only Opening Day no-no in MLB history. It came on April 16, 1940, at Comiskey Park. Feller was in attendance for Monday's game as a guest of the Chicago Baseball Museum and the Jerome Holtzman Library. The museum will have a luncheon tribute to "Rapid Robert" on Tuesday at Harry Caray's restaurant.

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.