GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The rain storm that cooled off the Arizona desert on Sunday morning, forcing the Indians to alter their first full-squad workout of the spring, subsided just enough for Grady Sizemore to continue his rehab program outdoors.
Down the right-field line on Field 2 at the team's player development complex, Sizemore sprinted at half-speed for a few minutes, adding some agility work to his routine after that. It was another positive step forward in the center fielder's comeback from microfracture surgery on his left knee.
"He started sprinting today. It went well," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "He was supposed to do it at 50-60 percent and he felt good after it. He also did some agility drills for the first time and everything went well."
The agility exercises that Sizemore ran through included moving side to side and backwards. It was the first time he did more than light jogging since undergoing the operation on his knee in June. Right now, Sizemore still maintains that his focus is on returning to the lineup in time for Opening Day on April 1.
"The goal is still to be ready for the home opener," Sizemore said. "But we're basically going off the knee. If the knee doesn't feel good, we're not going to push forward and go to the next step if I'm not feeling capable of doing that."
If Sizemore is not ready for Opening Day, the plan is to move Michael Brantley to center field. Austin Kearns would move from the bench to left, which is Brantley's planned position at the moment.
Sizemore is currently following an every-other-day program, so he will likely resume his running program on Tuesday, or Wednesday at the latest. The outfielder said his knee has presented no issues when hitting, which he has been doing for about a month, or while throwing.
Sizemore knows that his biggest challenge will be increasing the aggressiveness of his running program. As things currently stand, it is not clear when he will begin taking part in outfield drills or when Cleveland plans on using him in spring games. Sizemore will likely sit out at least the first week of exhibition games.
"It's hard," Sizemore said of the long comeback trail. "But it's been such a long rehab that I'm not looking to push anything and make it worse. Obviously, the whole thing with the surgery was take it easy and don't push the program. It was going to be a long recovery."
Acta, who is entering his second season as Cleveland's manager, said he can't wait for the day he finally sees Sizemore back at full strength.
"That was something that I was really looking forward to when I took this job," Acta said. "To me, it was a treat -- that's all I could think of -- being able to see this guy from the dugout for 160 games. I haven't been able to do it. I can't wait to be able to do it, because all I've seen in the past is either doing it against me in Interleague or those great highlights.
"I thought I was going to have a front-row seat, but I haven't been able to yet."
Knowlege gained from first season's trials
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- A year ago, Manny Acta arrived to Spring Training as Cleveland's new manager. Naturally, it took time for Acta to get to know his players and for them to get a feel for their new skipper.
Acta said it is a completely different feeling this spring.
"Not only from my side, but for the players, too," Acta said. "I don't think any of these kids knew what to expect from me and I think, with one year under their belt, they kind of know what I expect from them: how to play the game, how I run the game and just how every single one of them should know themselves and do what their tools call for to help us win ballgames."
Acta added that the many injuries that hit the Tribe's roster during the regular season helped him learn more about the team's younger players. The Indians were forced to rely on youth at multiple spots and the manager believes that gave him a good opportunity to examine the team's internal options.
"While it didn't help me in the win and loss columns," Acta said, "being able to play all those young guys last year because of the injuries [gave me] a pretty good idea of what they can do now. It wasn't a 10-20 at-bats opportunity for most of them. They got some at-bats and gave us an opportunity to evaluate them and come into camp this year with a better sense of what they can do or what they need to improve upon."
Pestano in competition following impressive stint
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Vinnie Pestano only appeared in five September games for the Indians last season, but manager Manny Acta saw enough to come away with a great first impression.
"This guy, he was fearless," Acta said. "He came in and he wasn't intimidated at all."
In his brief tour with the Tribe, the 26-year-old Pestano posted a 3.60 ERA, striking out eight hitters in five innings of work. That followed an impressive season spent between Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus. In 57 combined games, Pestano fashioned a 1.81 ERA with 17 saves and 77 strikeouts in 59 2/3 innings.
The year before, a right elbow injury ended Pestano's season in July.
"He's a guy that last year was monitored very close," Acta said. "The gloves are off and we'll see what he brings to the table again."
Pestano, selected by Cleveland in the 20th round of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, is competing for one of the two vacancies in the Indians' bullpen this spring.
Acta says Carrasco has earned rotation spot
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The way Indians manager Manny Acta sees things, there is only one spot up for grabs in the starting rotation. Acta believes right-hander Carlos Carrasco has earned the right to head north with the team.
"I think Carrasco has done enough in Triple-A already," Acta said. "And he pitched well enough for us last year in September that he's got a leg up on that [fourth] spot in the rotation. We're not saying that a guy like him, or a few more that we're not going to mention here, could probably pitch themselves out.
"It's pretty safe to say that he's going to be one of those five guys."
Carrasco, who will turn 24 in March, went 10-6 with a 3.65 ERA in 25 starts at Triple-A last season before going 2-2 with a 3.83 ERA over seven outings with Cleveland. He currently falls behind Fausto Carmona, Justin Masterson and Mitch Talbot in the Indians' projected rotation.
The main arms in the mix for the fifth job include David Huff, Jeanmar Gomez, Josh Tomlin, Aaron Laffey and Anthony Reyes.
Heavy rain forced the Indians to change the workout schedule on Sunday. Pitchers threw in the bullpen instead of on the field and hitters moved to the indoor batting cage. The Tribe was able to hold a baserunning lecture, but moved a discussion on bunt-play fundamentals to Monday. Infield practice was also canceled on Sunday. ... This spring, Minor League field coordinator Tom Wiedenbauer and baserunning coordinator Gary Thurman are working with players on baserunning techniques. Kenny Lofton will join the Tribe on Tuesday to help out as a guest instructor, focusing on baserunning and outfield defense. ... Acta said catcher Carlos Santana is completely done with his rehab from left knee surgery and is slated to start behind the plate during Thursday's seven-inning intrasquad game. ... The Indians will also have an intrasquad game on Friday that will last around 4 1/2 innings. ... Former Indians player and manager Mike Hargrove, who is now a special advisor to the team, will join the club in Arizona on Thursday. Hargrove and Eduardo Perez, a special assistant to baseball operations, will help out with first-base instruction this spring.