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03/01/11 8:43 PM ET

Sizemore doubtful to be in Opening Day lineup

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- It has been clear all spring that Grady Sizemore's chances of being with the Indians on Opening Day were slim.

On Tuesday, general manager Chris Antonetti acknowledged for the first time that the center fielder is unlikely to be ready in time for the Tribe's season opener. Sizemore is currently working through a rehab program after undergoing microfracture surgery on his left knee in June

"It's still a possibility," Antonetti said. "But I would say it's less likely than more likely [that Sizemore will be ready] for the start of the season. We're hopeful it'll still be near the start of the season, whether that's a few days or a few weeks, we just don't know yet."

Cleveland is three games into its Cactus League schedule, but there is still no established timetable for Sizemore's spring debut. The center fielder needs to pass a number of tests before the Indians will give him the go-ahead to join the lineup or roam the outfield again.

Indians manager Manny Acta said Antonetti's admission that Sizemore is unlikely to be ready in time for Opening Day will have little affect on Spring Training right now.

"We had to be prepared for that," Acta said. "But over the next two weeks, I don't think it changes anything, because he wasn't going to be out there anyway. We'll just continue to take a look at those guys we have out there."

Right now, Sizemore is limited to taking batting practice and he has been participating in sprint and agility drills. He has yet to add quick turns to his running program and the Indians have not had him run the bases or do outfield exercises yet, either.

"There's a number of things that he needs to work through," Antonetti said. "There's a number of things he needs to do in terms of changing direction, both in outfield drills as well as running the bases, that he still needs to accomplish before he's cleared to play."

Antonetti added that Sizemore has looked strong in the batter's box.

"We've been really encouraged with what we've seen," Antonetti said. "His batting practice has been as good or better than it's been at any point in the past. His ability to use the whole field, he hit a couple balls out of the ballpark the opposite way the other day. That shows his legs are underneath him.

"He feels good taking batting practice and doing a lot of the baseball activities. It's just a question of when he'll get to that point from a running standpoint that he'll be able to fully participate."

Sizemore, 28, was limited to only 33 games last season for the Indians. He had the microfracture procedure performed by Dr. Richard Steadman in Vail, Colo., on June 4 and the Indians have taken an extremely conservative approach with the outfielder's recovery.

If Sizemore is not ready in time for Opening Day, he could potentially begin the season in extended spring training or on a Minor League rehab assignment while on the 15-day disabled list.

"It would really depend on where he is in his progression and what he's able to do in that point," Antonetti said. "I'm not trying to be intentionally vague. It's just this is an uncommon surgery with not quite as clear of a progression.

"So we need to see how Grady meets each of those benchmarks and then adjust his timetable accordingly."

Carrasco not taking anything for granted

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Indians manager Manny Acta has made it known that Carlos Carrasco has a spot within the starting rotation. Carrasco is not letting that change his approach this spring.

As far as Carrasco is concerned, he is competing for a job.

"That's my goal right now, to compete," Carrasco said. "I never think about having the number whatever spot they're going to give me. No, I don't think about that. I'm ready, but I'm still working to win one of those spots right there."

As things currently stand, the 23-year-old Carrasco appears to fall behind Fausto Carmona, Justin Masterson and Mitch Talbot as Cleveland's No. 4 starter. Last year, Carrasco went 10-6 with a 3.65 ERA in 25 starts with Triple-A Columbus before going 2-2 with a 3.83 ERA in seven outings for the Indians.

On Tuesday, Carrasco made his Cactus League debut for the Tribe and limited the Dodgers to no runs over two innings. The right-hander threw fastballs, changeups and sliders -- he said he did not have a situation for his curve -- and was satisfied with his command. He walked one and struck out two.

"I felt very good," Carrasco said.

Carrasco said he has concentrated on fine-tuning his slider this spring. He said it acted more like a cutter last year, but now he has improved the late breaking action with the pitch. Asked if he has seen improvement with the pitch, Acta praised all of Carrasco's offerings.

"If you grade his four pitches," Acta said, "they have a chance to be -- all of them -- above average. It's always been a matter of him establishing his fastball and then being able to command the rest."

Tribe nearing deal with free-agent Johnson

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Indians are close to signing free-agent first baseman Nick Johnson, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. The deal would include an invitation to attend Spring Training with the Tribe and could include an option for the 2012 season.

Indians general manager Chris Antonetti declined comment.

Johnson, 32, played just 24 games with the Yankees last season due to a right wrist injury. He underwent surgery in May to repair a tendon in the wrist and needed a second operation in August after suffering a setback in his recovery.

Given Johnson's injury history, Cleveland is unlikely to confirm or officially announce the possible signing until completing a thorough physical examination process.

In 2009, Johnson hit .291 with a .426 on-base percentage between stints with the Nationals and Marlins. Over 133 games that year, he belted eight home runs with 62 RBIs. Over nine seasons in the Majors, Johnson has posted a .270 average with a .401 on-base percentage.

Johnson, who bats from the left side, has spent the bulk of his career as a first baseman, but he has experience as a designated hitter as well. Johnson would add a layer of depth behind full-time first baseman Matt LaPorta and DH Travis Hafner.

Indians Music Festival to be held in June

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- It has been more than a decade since the Indians held a concert at Progressive Field. On Tuesday, the ballclub announced that it is bringing back the stage this year for a show featuring country star Brad Paisley.

As part of what the club is calling the "Indians Music Festival," Paisley -- a three-time Grammy Award winner -- and his H2OII Tour will head to Progressive Field for a 4 p.m. ET show on June 11. Musicians Blake Shelton and Jerrod Niemann will also perform.

"We are extremely excited to announce the creation of the Indians Music Festival," Indians president Mark Shapiro said in a release. "This event represents a continuing effort to take advantage and expose more of our community to one of our greatest assets, Progressive Field.

"In addition, the Indians Music Festival is another opportunity for us to provide our fans and Northeast Ohio with a chance to see the best entertainment in a unique and memorable setting."

The show will mark the first concert held at the Tribe's home stadium since Jimmy Buffett performed there in 1995.

Tickets for the concert -- beginning at $30 with field level seating starting at $85 -- will go on sale at 10 a.m. ET on March 14. Tickets can be purchased online at indians.com/musicfestival, at Indians Team Shops, at the Progressive Field ticket office or by calling 1-866-48-TRIBE.

Smoke signals

Indians manager Manny Acta noted that utility man Shelley Duncan is "a little dinged up" right now after pulling a muscle near his back last week. Duncan has been held out of games up to this point, but Acta said he should be ready to begin playing in a few days. ... General manager Chris Antonetti said that outfielder Travor Crowe (right rotator cuff soreness) should be able to resume throwing soon. ... Right-hander Anthony Reyes (right elbow soreness) still has no established timetable for resuming his throwing program. ... Left-hander David Huff, who is competing for the fifth spot in the rotation, logged two shutout innings with three strikeouts against the Dodgers on Tuesday. ... Indians closer Chris Perez turned in one shutout inning on Tuesday in his second appearance of the spring. ... Scheduled pitchers for Wednesday's game against the A's include Justin Masterson (starting), Doug Mathis, Vinnie Pestano, Drew Pomeranz, Zach Putnam, Joe Smith and Jess Todd. ... All spring, Acta has noted that Austin Kearns and Michael Brantley would likely be in left and center field, respectively, in the event that center fielder Grady Sizemore (left knee) is not ready for Opening Day. On Tuesday, Acta changed his tune some, even suggesting that the team might consider a platoon scenario in left field.

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.