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06/25/11 4:58 PM ET

Tribe asks Kearns, Buck to step up in right field

SAN FRANCISCO -- With Shin-Soo Choo on the disabled list with a broken left thumb, and sidelined for the foreseeable future, the Indians plan on moving forward with Austin Kearns and Travis Buck in a platoon situation in right field.

How long that plan lasts will be up to Kearns and Buck.

"We'll see," Indians manager Manny Acta said on Saturday morning. "After that, we'll look into Plan B, C, D, E and F."

Choo is expected to miss at least six weeks, perhaps more, after being hit on the hand by a pitch from San Francisco's Jonathan Sanchez in Friday's 4-3 loss. The right fielder will likely need surgery, and Cleveland needs to find a solution for his absence both in the lineup and in the field.

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Acta noted that he has discussed the situation with general manager Chris Antonetti, who is currently weighing through the team's alternatives. The Tribe is considering its options at Triple-A Columbus, but Acta indicated that the club is also exploring the trade market.

"I talked to Chris today," Acta said. "We continue to look externally, and internally at our guys in Triple-A. It's obviously very early. It's kind of tough to make trades and stuff like that, because just about every club is still in it."

As for the team's options at Columbus, Acta mentioned outfielders Chad Huffman and Ezequiel Carrera. Huffman, who is not on the 40-man roster, was hitting .261, with 10 home runs and 38 RBIs through 66 games. Carrera (on the roster) was batting .300, with two homers, eight doubles, 23 RBIs, 27 stolen bases and 53 runs in 65 games.

Other Triple-A options might include Luis Valbuena, who has seen time in the outfield and is on the 40-man roster, or Jerad Head, who is not on the roster. Valbuena has hit .309, with nine homers and 48 RBIs in 64 games. Head has batted .311, with nine homers and 33 RBIs in 59 games.

"We have Carrera and we have Huffman down there," Acta said. "Those are options for us. We're going to have to see how things work out here."

Entering Saturday, Kearns -- signed to a one-year contract over the winter -- was hitting just .198, with no homers and two RBIs through 31 games for the Indians. Buck was batting .228, with two homers and nine RBIs. Acta also noted that Shelley Duncan could see action in the outfield.

Acta added that the struggles of Kearns and Buck likely stemmed from their sporadic playing time.

"It's kind of tough to ask either one of those guys to produce," Acta said, "when neither one of them has ever been a bench player."

LaPorta's return to Indians fast approaching

SAN FRANCISCO -- Sidelined first baseman Matt LaPorta will be reunited with the Indians on Friday, when the club heads to Cincinnati. Cleveland is hoping LaPorta's return from the disabled list will come shortly thereafter.

LaPorta -- on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained right ankle -- is scheduled to take batting practice on the field with the team next weekend in Cincinnati. The first baseman is no longer wearing the walking boot that he sported for much of the past week.

"He'll be able to hit batting practice," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "Then we'll go from there."

LaPorta, who injured his ankle while running the bases in a game against the Pirates on June 17, will be eligible to be activated from the DL on July 4, when the Tribe opens a seven-game homestand. The Indians have yet to determine if LaPorta will need a Minor League rehab assignment.

"Let's see him hit in batting practice first," Acta said.

Through 59 games this season, LaPorta was hitting .242, with eight home runs, 10 doubles and 31 RBIs for the Indians. Considering the Tribe lost right fielder Shin-Soo Choo to a broken left thumb on Friday, Acta is looking forward to having LaPorta's bat back in the lineup.

"It'll be big," Acta said. "Especially now that Choo is not here and him being a right-handed bat in the middle of all those guys. We're going to have to see how he is after the layoff."

Sizemore shifts to middle of lineup for Tribe

SAN FRANCISCO -- Indians manager Manny Acta has been forced to shuffle his lineup throughout this season for a variety of reasons. The latest alignment stemmed from the loss of right fielder Shin-Soo Choo.

With Choo on the 15-day disabled list with a fracture left thumb, Acta moved center fielder Grady Sizemore out of the leadoff spot and into the fifth spot in the order. Without Choo's bat in the heart of the lineup, Acta feels Sizemore is better served hitting toward the middle.

"The reason why we took Grady out of the leadoff spot last year," Acta said, "was because Victor Martinez was [traded in 2009]. We just can't afford to have him leading off when we don't have those guys in the middle of our lineup."

Complicating matters at the moment is the fact that Indians designated hitter Travis Hafner has been relegated to pinch-hitting duties. Cleveland is currently in the midst of a nine-game swing through San Francisco, Arizona and Cincinnati, where no DH is permitted under National League rules.

That makes Sizemore's presence in the heart of the lineup even more necessary.

"Not having Hafner, being in the National League," Acta said, "and not having Choo, we need him to be in the middle."

Entering Saturday, Sizemore was hitting .229 with seven home runs, 16 doubles, 20 RBIs and 23 runs scored in 43 games for the Indians. The center fielder has had two stints on the disabled list this year due to issues with both knees.

Smoke signals

• After having three days off to rest a sore left shoulder, Indians outfielder Michael Brantley was back in the starting lineup for Saturday's game against the Giants. Brantley was slotted into the leadoff spot and manned left field. He did not start on Friday, but had one at-bat as a pinch-hitter in a 4-3 loss to San Francisco.

• Indians right-hander Alex White, who is on the 60-day disabled list with a right middle finger injury, began a throwing program on Friday at the team's complex in Goodyear, Ariz. White is playing light catch.

• The Indians have signed right-hander Jeff Johnson, who was a 10th-round pick in this year's First-Year Player Draft. Cleveland has signed 13 of its selections, including seven of its top 12 picks. First-rounder Francisco Lindor remains unsigned.

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.