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

03/21/11 9:45 PM ET

Tribe being cautious with Cabrera's cramp

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- If it had been up to him, Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera would have remained in Sunday's game against the D-backs, even after experiencing some discomfort behind his left knee.

On Monday, Cabrera said the cramp he felt while running to first base during a first-inning single was nothing more than that -- a cramp -- and the shortstop insisted he could have played through the issue. That said, he understood why Cleveland took a cautious approach.

"I felt normal," Cabrera said. "I could've still played and finished the game, but they made the decision to take me out of the game. They're the boss."

Initially, Cabrera stayed in the game, but he was removed for a pinch-runner after advancing to third base following a pair of walks. Cabrera noted that he ran aggressively from second to third to test out the knee, and he said he did not feel any more tightness.

Even so, the Indians decided to give Cabrera a day off on Monday, though their tilt against the Royals was rained out. Indians manager Manny Acta said the shortstop will return to the lineup on Tuesday, when Cleveland takes on the D-backs in Scottsdale.

"He's fine," Acta said. "It was just a typical cramp. We just didn't want to take any chances."

Through 12 Cactus League games this spring, the 25-year-old Cabrera has hit .424 with a .513 on-base percentage, two home runs, three doubles and five RBIs. He said he has had no lingering issues from the left forearm injury that sidelined him for roughly two months last season.

"It's fine now," Cabrera said. "I'm ready for the season."

Smith running out of time to get healthy

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Indians have not officially ruled Joe Smith out for Opening Day, but the calendar tells a different story. Only nine days remain in Spring Training, leaving little time for the reliever to get ready for the start of the season.

Even Smith has his doubts.

"Am I concerned about not being ready for April 1?" Smith said on Monday morning. "It's a reality. If I am, my arm would have to respond pretty good really, really quick. I think that's going to be pretty hard to do."

Smith has been sidelined for nearly two weeks, due to a strained upper abdominal muscle. It is not considered a serious injury, but the persistent discomfort has kept the right-hander out of spring games since March 9.

On Monday, Smith played catch up to a distance of 45 feet, making 20 throws without any pain. He said he would likely increase the throwing distance on Tuesday if he does not have any lingering issues from the latest session. Smith would need to build up to 120 feet before being cleared to move back on a mound.

Smith said he would be more confident in being able to get ready for Opening Day if the only goal was to work from a mound. The reliever said his current concern is handling back-to-back appearances, which is something he has not attempted yet during Spring Training.

"I'm worried about the bounce-back," Smith said.

Last year, Smith went 2-2 with a 3.83 ERA in 53 games for the Indians, and he entered this spring as a leading candidate for a bullpen job. If Smith needs to open the season on the 15-day disabled list -- and it would likely be a short stay -- righty Vinnie Pestano would be a top candidate to take his spot in the 'pen.

The only perceived locks in the bullpen are closer Chris Perez, veteran righty Chad Durbin, and lefties Tony Sipp and Rafael Perez. Other bullpen options still in big league camp include: Jensen Lewis, Justin Germano, Frank Herrmann, Doug Mathis, Jess Todd, Pestano and Smith.

Sizemore slated for his first action in center

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- After months of grueling rehab, and a spring defined by slow and steady progress, Grady Sizemore will be back in center field for the Indians on Tuesday afternoon.

Sizemore, who underwent microfracture surgery on his left knee in June, is scheduled to patrol center and play three innings for Cleveland's upcoming contest against the D-backs in Scottsdale.

So far, the Indians have been pleased with Sizemore's recovery from the complicated procedure.

"He's in a good spot," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "He's feeling pretty good. It's a day-to-day thing. We just have to see how he shows up the very next day."

Sizemore is on an every-other-day program for game action. He made his Spring Training game debut as a designated hitter on Sunday, going 0-for-2 in a 5-3 win over Arizona. Acta noted that Sizemore would likely serve as a DH in his next game appearance after Tuesday.

The Indians are continuing to take a conservative approach with Sizemore's rehab. The club has made it known that he will not be ready in time for Opening Day, and there is still no established timetable for when he might be activated from the disabled list.

Until Sizemore returns, Cleveland will likely use an outfield alignment of Austin Kearns in left, Michael Brantley in center, and Shin-Soo Choo in right. Right now, non-roster invitee Travis Buck appears to be the favorite to land the fourth outfielder's job for the Opening Day squad.

D-backs up next for Tribe after rainout

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Indians' spring schedule has nine contests remaining after rain washed out their game against the Kansas City Royals on Monday.

The Royals canceled the game about 45 minutes after the scheduled 3:05 p.m. CT start at Surprise Stadium. Rain began falling at mid-morning and soaked the field.

Up next for the Indians: Grady Sizemore is scheduled to make his 2011 debut in center field when the Indians take on the D-backs in a 4:05 p.m. ET affair on Tuesday in Scottsdale. Sizemore, who had microfracture surgery on his left knee in June, made his spring-game debut as a designated hitter on Sunday. Indians Opening Day starter Fausto Carmona will get the nod against Arizona. Cleveland right-hander Josh Tomlin will pitch in a Minor League game at 2:15 p.m. ET at the team's complex. Tomlin -- a candidate for the fifth spot in the rotation -- was originally supposed to pitch in Monday's rainout.

Up next for the Royals: Left-hander Jeff Francis will follow Luke Hochevar in the rotation on Tuesday, just as he will in the regular season. The difference is Hochevar, rained out of a start on Monday, will pitch in a Minor League game at 3:05 p.m. CT on Tuesday -- and Francis will work in the regular Cactus League game against the Los Angeles Angels at 8:05 p.m. CT on Tuesday at Surprise Stadium. Francis will probably be cautious about showing the Angels his best stuff because he'll be facing them in Kansas City in the second game of the regular season on April 1.

Smoke signals

Indians manager Manny Acta said that he will likely be ready to reveal the team's starting rotation before the end of the week. Right now, Fausto Carmona, Justin Masterson, Mitch Talbot and Carlos Carrasco are locked into the top four slots, though not necessarily in that order. Josh Tomlin, David Huff and Jeanmar Gomez are in the mix for the fifth spot. Tomlin appears to be the favorite. ... Veteran infielder Adam Everett remained sidelined with a sprained left thumb on Monday. Everett underwent an MRI exam and X-rays on the thumb on Monday and, depending on the results of the tests, might be able to participate in Tuesday's morning workout. ... Tomlin was originally scheduled to pitch on Monday, but the Tribe's afternoon game against the Royals was rained out. Tomlin is now slated to pitch in a Minor League "camp game" at 11:15 a.m. PT on Tuesday at the Indians' complex. Righties Justin Germano and Chad Durbin will also pitch. ... Right-hander Anthony Reyes, who was sidelined earlier this spring with right elbow soreness, has not appeared in a spring game since Tuesday. Acta said that Reyes has not faced any setbacks, noting that the club simply needs to prioritize innings for pitchers who are either being stretched out innings-wise or in the mix for jobs on the Opening Day roster. ... With a surplus of left-handed hitters expected to be on the Indians' roster, Acta was asked if having a right-handed hitter available on the bench was important. "We don't care what side they hit from, as long as they can hit," Acta said.

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.