Opening day is less than two weeks away and the Indians already have some injury problems. Both Jason Donald and Grady Sizemore, two starters, will not be in the opening day lineup.
Sizemore was expected to be out after his knee surgery but the Donald injury was not expected. It came earlier this month when he was hit by a pitch on the left hand. He tried to play through the pain, but he made the right decision in letting it heal. He will be out of the games in Goodyear all week and will miss the beginning of the season.
This is very frustrating to Donald and Manny Acta alike. Donald has to sit back and watch his starting spot at third be taken away. Luckily for him, he should regain his starting spot once he heals.
The problem for Manny Acta is filling the lineup with the absences of both Sizemore and Donald. As said before, the Sizemore injury was expected to keep him out of action for a short period of time. Acta has enough talent in the outfield to fill the spot in center field. Michael Brantley is expected to start at center with Austin Kearns in left. Brantley might keep that position if Sizemore does not completely recover from his injury. Kearns can always be relied on to fill roles in the lineup when needed.
The situation at third is one that Acta might have thought had already been resolved. Now that Donald is out, he has to find a replacement. Acta has already said that there is no chance that Lonnie Chisenhall would be called up. After being sent to the minor league camp, he is going to stay there and progress before the coaching staff even considers calling him up.
The possible choices at third include Jayson Nix, Luis Valbuena, and newcomer Jack Hannahan. Nix struggled with his defense at third last year and Valbuena is known to struggle on offense.
Hannahan is currently hitting .400 in 14 games so far this spring. He is a non roster invitee to camp, but he should make the opening day roster. If this comes at the expense of Valbuena’s roster spot, it should be done.
Opening Day Countdown: 12 days