© 2011 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

03/06/11 7:00 PM ET

Duncan makes Cactus League debut

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Indians utility man Shelley Duncan made his Cactus League debut on Saturday, and experienced no lingering issues from the pulled back muscle that sidelined him earlier in camp.

The only discomfort Duncan felt was in the batter's box.

"I felt rusty," Duncan said on Sunday morning. "It had been a week without seeing live pitching. I faced all lefties. I think I was trying to do too much. I flew off on everything, but it felt good. I had some excitement -- first game of the year."

On Saturday against the Mariners, Duncan manned first base and finished 1-for-3 at the plate. He got the nod in left field for Sunday's road tilt against the Rockies. Duncan is competing for a job with the Indians as a part-time outfielder, first baseman and designated hitter off the bench.

Last season, Duncan hit .231, with 11 home runs and 36 RBIs in 85 games for Cleveland.

Donald not expected to miss much time

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- One day after being struck on the left hand with a pitch, Jason Donald listened to the Indians' training staff and avoided any baseball activities on Sunday morning.

Donald does not plan on sitting out too long, though.

"The less time I have to be in the training room, the better," said Donald, who then cracked a smile. "I like our training staff, but I don't like them that much."

On Monday, Donald will likely be permitted to take part in Cleveland's morning workout prior to the team's road game against the White Sox. Depending on how the third baseman feels following the practice session, he could be cleared to resume playing in games as early as Tuesday or Wednesday.

Indians manager Manny Acta did not expect Donald to miss much time.

"A couple days," Acta said. "He showed up today already feeling better. The word from the medical staff is it's a lot of improvement from one day to the next."

Donald, 26, was struck on the back of his left hand by a fastball from Chicago right-hander Gavin Floyd during the second inning of Saturday's game against the White Sox. Donald initially stayed in the game, but left the stadium in the third to undergo an X-ray on the hand.

The results came back negative, allowing Donald and the Indians to let out a sigh of relief. Instead of suffering any broken bones, the third baseman walked away with a bruise, and is considered day-to-day.

"At first, I thought it hit him higher," Acta said. "So I wasn't as concerned about it, up until [head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff] came back and said it got him behind the hand. I know how all those little bones there are so fragile, so that's when I was kind of a little bit concerned."

Right now, Donald appears to be the leading candidate to win the vacant starting-third-base job. Others in the mix include Luis Valbuena and Jack Hannahan. The Tribe also has highly touted third-base prospect Lonnie Chisenhall in camp this spring, but he looks to be headed to Triple-A Columbus to open the season.

Donald is itching to get back on the field.

"I'm certainly not going to baby it," Donald said, "but I'm going to be smart with it."

Brantley sits for third straight day

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Michael Brantley took part in the Indians' morning workout on Sunday, but the outfielder remained out of the lineup for the third day in a row. Manager Manny Acta insisted there was nothing to be concerned about.

"He just had some general leg soreness," Acta said. "We just gave Michael a few days off. It's nothing to worry about."

Head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff called Brantley's current ailment "non-specific leg soreness," citing the outfielder's knees and hamstrings. Both Acta and Soloff noted that Brantley would likely be allowed to resume playing in Cactus League contests as early as Monday or Tuesday.

Acta noted that Brantley played in four of the first five Cactus League games, while center fielder Grady Sizemore (left knee), outfielder Trevor Crowe (right shoulder) and outfielder Nick Weglarz (back spasms) were all sidelined. Brantley, who is 1-for-10 at the plate this spring, has not suited up for a game since Thursday.

Last year, Brantley hit .246 with three home runs, nine doubles and 22 RBIs in 72 games with the Indians. As things currently stand, the 23-year-old Brantley projects as the Opening Day center fielder for the Tribe, who are not expecting Sizemore to be ready for the start of the season.

Brantley hopes to be back in the lineup on Monday.

"I'm fine," he said on Sunday morning. "I'll be out there tomorrow."

Reyes takes step forward in rehab

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Competing for a spot on the Indians' Opening Day roster is quickly becoming unrealistic for Anthony Reyes. But the right-hander managed to take a major step forward on Sunday morning.

Reyes, who has been fighting right-elbow soreness this spring, threw off a mound in a 36-pitch bullpen session that lasted roughly eight minutes. It was Reyes' first time back on a mound in a couple of weeks.

"He threw the ball well," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "For a guy who had that time off ... based on the soreness in the elbow, he didn't look afraid to throw the ball. That's a good sign. He didn't look tentative at all."

Acta indicated that Reyes will need to complete a few more bullpen sessions before possibly being cleared to pitch in Cactus League games. Reyes, 29, underwent Tommy John surgery on his right elbow in 2009, and sat out last season -- with the exception of five Minor League rehab outings.

Entering Spring Training, Reyes was considered a candidate for the vacant fifth-starter job. Right now, though, the list of contenders for the lone opening at the back end of the starting staff appears to be down to Josh Tomlin, David Huff and Jeanmar Gomez.

Acta says Hafner may be one of a dying breed

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Indians manager Manny Acta believes Travis Hafner could be one of the last players to serve as a strict designated hitter. Acta sees more teams leaning toward versatility with the DH role.

"I think most of the American League clubs are heading in that direction," Acta said on Sunday. "That way, you can rest some of your players. It can be looked at as a positive."

The topic was raised in light of Acta's plan to closely monitor Hafner's playing time this season to keep the DH's surgically repaired right shoulder healthy. Down the stretch last year, Acta tried to avoid using Hafner in more than four consecutive games -- and the DH responded by hitting .302 over his final 36 games.

Acta might employ a similar approach this season. On days when Hafner is not in the lineup, Acta said he might cycle different players in and out of the spot to provide days off from playing the field.

"It's a day that we could benefit from that, resting guys," Acta said. "I don't think we're going to have a spot on the team just designed for somebody who's going to DH when Hafner is not playing."

Smoke signals

Recently signed reliever Chad Durbin is scheduled to make his first game appearance of the spring, when the Indians host the Reds in a "B" game at 11:30 a.m. ET on Tuesday at Cleveland's player development complex. ... Crowe (right shoulder) said on Sunday that he is scheduled to be re-evaluated on Monday. Crowe hopes to resume playing catch some time next week. ... Gomez had a rough outing on Saturday against the Mariners. Gomex allowed four runs on four hits in just 2 1/3 innings. "I talked personally with him," Acta said. "He didn't pitch ahead very well, and they took advantage of it. He had good velocity and good movement, but not his usual pitch command." ... Acta noted that right-hander Carlos Carrasco is expected to rejoin the Indians on Monday after being with his wife in Florida for the past few days for the birth of their child. Carrasco is scheduled to make his next start on Wednesday.

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.