No time frame for Wood's return
Right-hander throws side session prior to Sunday's game
OAKLAND -- Closer Kerry Wood pitched another bullpen session before Sunday's game against the Oakland A's and "felt good," according to Indians manager Manny Acta, but there is still no targeted date for Wood to begin a rehab assignment.
"We're not putting any time frame on it," Acta said. "He's going to throw another bullpen [Wednesday] in Anaheim, and then, from there, we're probably going to build up some type of rehab assignment, with probably another simulated game before then. Everything is going to depend on how the next bullpen goes."
Wood hasn't pitched in a game since March 10, in Spring Training, because of a strained back muscle.
"He feels fine," Acta said. "Everything is all set for the next bullpen. He just has to build up a little bit of stamina and then go from there."
On Sunday, Wood threw more than 20 pitches, as Acta, pitching coach Tim Belcher and trainer Lonnie Soloff looked on. When Wood threw a simulated game on Friday, he struggled with his command. His command on Sunday was better, Acta said.
"The last time, his command wasn't there, and he felt a little discouraged by that," Acta said. "And that will happen."
Before Friday's session, Acta said there was a chance that Wood might be activated without a rehab assignment. Now, a rehab assignment is probable.
"But again, we can't put any time frame or anything like that because it all depends on the next step," Acta said."
Sipp effective in preserving lead during win
OAKLAND -- There was just one out with runners on first and third in the bottom of the eighth inning on Saturday against the A's, when Indians manager Manny Acta called on left-hander Tony Sipp to relieve starter Fausto Carmona.
"We felt yesterday he was a good match with all those left-handers that they have," Acta said before Sunday's game against Oakland. "He came in and the idea was to get some type of damage control, and maybe just allow one run."
One run? Try one pitch and no runs.
Sipp got left-handed hitter Ryan Sweeney to ground his first pitch directly at second baseman Mark Grudzielanek and into a double play, preserving Cleveland's 3-1 lead. The Indians went on to win 6-1.
"You don't get many chances to throw one pitch and get two outs," Sipp said. "It relieved a lot of pressure in one pitch, coming in to help Fausto out. He battled the whole game. It could have gone the opposite way. I'm glad it went in the right direction with that one pitch."
Sipp said that he has come into big league games and induced his first hitter to hit into a double play before but never on the first pitch.
"It was a fastball down and away," Sipp said. "I just wanted to get something in the strike zone and get ahead, that was my thought. Something down and aggressive in the strike zone. That was really my only thought process. I was hoping he'd put something in play early. I didn't think it was going to be the first pitch, but I'm happy with the results."
Last season, as a rookie, Sipp had a 1.14 ERA over his final 25 appearances. This year, he is off to a slower start, with a 4.76 ERA in eight appearances, but Acta said he's seen encouraging signs.
"He struggled a bit in spring training, but he has pitched better now," Acta said. "Tony has the type of stuff to get lefties and righties out. That's what he did here last year."
Designated hitter Travis Hafner got the day off Sunday. Matt LaPorta started at DH, and Austin Kearns took his spot in left field. Kearns went 0-for-4, snapping his eight-game hitting streak. ... Manager Manny Acta said that first baseman Russell Branyan's back has held up well since he returned from the disabled list. Branyan is being limited to no more than four games per week now, but Acta expects that number "to be increased" later in the season. "We have stayed with the plan," Acta said. "We're not going to derail from it until farther down the line." Branyan made his fourth start of the season on Sunday, going 1-for-3 with a double. ... The Indians lost the series, two games to one, and have lost eight of their past nine series with the A's. ... Shin-Soo Choo went 2-for-4 Sunday and has hit safely in 11 of his past 13 games, batting .391 over that span. ... The Indians fell to 4-8 on the road overall and 2-4 on this nine-game trip. They've lost 23 of their past 27 road games dating back to last season. ... Asdrubal Cabrera went 1-for-4 on Sunday and has hit safely in nine of his past 10 games. He's hitting .333 in that stretch. ... The Indians are now hitting .233 as a team.
Eric Gilmore is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.