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07/20/10 7:44 PM ET

Indians activate Cabrera from disabled list

Tribe designates reliever Lewis for assignment to make room

MINNEAPOLIS -- Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera wasn't expecting to rejoin the Tribe until Friday. But the Tribe called Cabrera on Tuesday morning and told him to hop on a flight to the Twin Cities.

Cabrera, who worked his way back from right forearm surgery, was activated off the disabled list in advance of Tuesday's game with the Twins and immediately slotted back into the leadoff spot of manager Manny Acta's order. To make room for Cabrera, reliever Jensen Lewis was designated for assignment and is expected to be officially optioned to Triple-A Columbus later in the week.

Acta said the Indians had to speed up the timetable on Cabrera a few days because of what transpired Monday night, when Austin Kearns left early because of right knee soreness and Michael Brantley injured his right shoulder on a dive in the outfield grass.

With both Kearns and Brantley listed as day-to-day, the Indians needed another position player. It was suggested to Acta that perhaps Cabrera "sent a message" that he was ready when he homered in Double-A Akron's win over Altoona on Monday night.

"Those guys getting banged up sent a message," Acta said. "Or else he'd still be there til Friday."

Cabrera fractured his forearm May 17 against Tampa Bay, when he collided with teammate Jhonny Peralta near second base. He showed no signs of rust during the rehab. In six games at Akron and Class A Mahoning Valley, Cabrera went 7-for-20 (.350) with three doubles, a homer and three RBIs. He is deemed ready to resume his everyday duties at shortstop.

"I hit pretty good down there," he said.

With Cabrera back, the Indians have a new second baseman in rookie Jason Donald, who had been filling in at short. Jayson Nix, who had taken over at second base in recent weeks, will move to a utility role. It began Tuesday, when he was penciled into left field for the first time with the Tribe and just the second time this year.

Donald is batting .276 with two homers and 17 RBIs in 49 games. The Indians view him as a potential core player going forward, so they wanted him to remain in the big leagues and remain in the lineup.

"He's shown a lot of progress," Acta said. "I think he's settled down since the first couple weeks. He's really made a lot of progress in his overall game. He has played himself into this situation."

Acta said he will use Nix "as I see fit," meaning he is not promising Nix a certain number of starts per week or a set position. Claimed off waivers from the White Sox last month, Nix has been a nice find, batting .265 with six homers and 12 RBIs.

As for Cabrera, he might slot into the No. 2 spot of the lineup later in the week, when Shin-Soo Choo returns. Choo, who is expected to be activated Friday, would bat third and Carlos Santana would bat cleanup.

Cabrera, who was batting .287 with one homer and seven RBIs before going on the DL, indicated that he was expecting to bat second.

"It's fine," he said. "It's the position I'm supposed to do all the time. I feel comfortable there."

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