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01/05/11 1:05 PM EST

Sizemore begins baseball activities

Indians optimistic center fielder will be ready by Opening Day

CLEVELAND -- The Indians' projected lineup for Opening Day currently includes Grady Sizemore. The center fielder's recovery from left knee surgery is going as expected and he has been cleared to begin expanding his offseason activity.

On Wednesday, Indians general manager Chris Antonetti said that Sizemore received the go-ahead this week to start "modified" baseball activities, including throwing and hitting. Next week, Sizemore is scheduled to begin testing his knee with light running.

"He's passed all the tests so far," Antonetti said. "We're still optimistic that he'll be ready in time for Opening Day."

Antonetti noted that Sizemore, who had microfracture surgery on his knee in June, passed a checkup with Dr. Richard Steadman in Vail, Colo., over the holidays.

Cleveland plans on taking a conservative approach with Sizemore's return. It is unlikely that the star center fielder will be cleared to play in games once the Tribe's Spring Training schedule opens on Feb. 27. That said, Antonetti does not see any reason right now to believe Sizemore couldn't be ready for Opening Day on April 1.

The Indians have alternatives in place to guard against a setback for Sizemore, though. In the event that Sizemore is not recovered in time for Opening Day, Michael Brantley would shift to center field. That would open the door for more playing time in left field for recently signed outfielder Austin Kearns.

Behind the outfield foursome of Sizemore, Brantley, Kearns and Shin-Soo Choo, the Indians have a variety of players in the mix for a roster spot. Trevor Crowe, Travis Buck, Shelley Duncan, Chad Huffman and Jordan Brown could all be in the running for an outfield bench job.

Last season, the 28-year-old Sizemore appeared in just 33 games, during which he hit .211 with 13 RBIs. Injuries limited Sizemore to 106 games in 2009. His last full season came in '08, when he hit .268 with 33 homers, 39 doubles, 38 stolen bases and 90 RBIs over 157 games.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.