CLEVELAND -- The Indians made a couple of transactions on Wednesday afternoon to finalize the structure of their Opening Day roster.
In order to add reliever Dan Wheeler and utility infielder Jose Lopez to the 25-man roster -- both players were non-roster invitees this spring -- Cleveland placed center fielder Grady Sizemore (back) on the 60-day disabled list and designated outfielder Thomas Neal for assignment. Those moves vacated a pair of spots on the 40-man roster.
The Indians' tentative Opening Day lineup for Thursday's 3:05 p.m. ET tilt against the Blue Jays will be center fielder Michael Brantley, followed by shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, right fielder Shin-Soo Choo, catcher Carlos Santana, designated hitter Travis Hafner, left fielder Shelley Duncan, first baseman Casey Kotchman, second baseman Jason Kipnis and third baseman Jack Hannahan.
Cleveland's rotation will include Opening Day starter Justin Masterson, followed by Ubaldo Jimenez, Derek Lowe, Josh Tomlin and Jeanmar Gomez. The bullpen will have closer Chris Perez, setup men Vinnie Pestano and Tony Sipp, along with lefty Rafael Perez, right-handed sidearmer Joe Smith, plus Jairo Asencio and Wheeler.
The Tribe's bench will be occupied by outfielder Aaron Cunningham, utility infielder and outfielder Jason Donald, backup catcher Lou Marson and Lopez.
Jimenez surprised by suspension from MLB
CLEVELAND -- Ubaldo Jimenez remains unapologetic about hitting Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki with a pitch during the first inning of his final outing of Spring Training, and the Indians pitcher does not feel he deserved to be suspended.
On Wednesday, Jimenez said he was surprised by the punishment he received from Major League Baseball.
"Yes, I was," said Jimenez, standing at his locker in the team's clubhouse at Progressive Field. "I didn't have any reason to hit him -- not that I know. I never said anything about him. I never mentioned names or anything, so I don't know."
In the wake of a series of Spring Training articles that included critical comments from Tulowitzki and other members of Jimenez's former team, the right-hander hit the shortstop on the left elbow with a pitch during a Cactus League game on Sunday in Scottsdale, Ariz. Both players charged at one another, exchanging shouts as the benches emptied.
Major League Baseball handed Jimenez a five-game suspension and an undisclosed fine for his actions on Monday, and the pitcher is currently in the process of appealing. As things stand, he is scheduled to make his first start of the season for the Indians on Saturday against the Blue Jays in Cleveland.
Jimenez does not feel the unfortunate episode will serve as a distraction.
"I'm not going to be thinking about that," Jimenez said. "We are appealing right now, so I'm going to get ready for my game on Saturday, and we'll see how we're going to end up after that."
The Indians acquired the 28-year-old Jimenez from the Rockies at the July 31 Trade Deadline last season as part of a five-player deal that sent highly touted pitchers Drew Pomeranz and Alex White to Colorado. Jimenez went 4-4 with a 5.10 ERA down the stretch with the Tribe and endured a rough spring, going 1-4 with a 7.43 ERA.
Jimenez said he is eager to get the regular season started.
"Spring Training is done," Jimenez said. "I'm only worrying about this season. Everything is in the past for me. I don't have to worry about anything else."
Indians hope Sizemore can return in June
CLEVELAND -- The Indians are holding out hope that Grady Sizemore will be able to help them at some point this summer. If the sidelined center fielder does return to the lineup, it will not be until the first week of June at the earliest.
On Wednesday, Cleveland placed Sizemore on the 60-day disabled list, which officially takes him out of the fold until at least June 3. Indians general manager Chris Antonetti said the ballclub believes that might be enough time for the center fielder to return from his back injury.
"That continues to be our hope," Antonetti said. "At this point, that's the best-case scenario."
Sizemore, 29, underwent lower back surgery on March 1 and the team initially indicated that it would take two to three months for the center fielder to rejoin the team. Sizemore is currently in Cleveland working through the early stages of his recovery, which also includes rehab for his surgically repaired right knee.
Antonetti said Sizemore is making progress.
"He feels good," Antonetti said. "It's good to see Grady with a smile on his face, and I think he knows he's heading in the right direction. Hopefully, when the 60-day period is over, he's ready to come back and contribute and help the team win.
"He's still working on stability and mobility with his lower back. He has not yet initiated baseball activities, but in a couple weeks, he'll start to do that. And then, obviously, there's a progression he's going to need to go through at that point."
Last season, Sizemore hit .224 with 10 home runs, 21 doubles and 32 RBIs in 71 games for the Indians. He has undergone six surgeries (both knees, right elbow, two hernia procedures and the back operation) over the past four years with the Indians.
Quote to note
"We're ready to go. We're going to bring exciting baseball to town again -- I don't see why not. The young guys have one more year of Major League experience. We added some veteran players that are going to bring not only some leadership, but are going to offer some depth to our rotation, our bullpen and our position players. And, hey, I expect these guys to take a step forward." -- Indians manager Manny Acta
The Indians placed left-hander David Huff, who suffered a strained right hamstring on Thursday, on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday. Huff was in the running for Cleveland's fifth starter job this spring, but the lefty will likely head to Triple-A Columbus once healthy.
On Wednesday, the Indians reassigned catcher Matt Pagnozzi, infielder Gregorio Petit, reliever Jeremy Accardo and outfielder Ryan Spilborghs to Triple-A Columbus. Reliever Henricus van den Hurk, who was designated for assignment on Thursday, cleared waivers and was sent outright to Triple-A.
The Indians released outfielder Felix Pie on Wednesday. Cleveland signed him to a Minor League contract over the offseason and brought him into camp during the spring as a non-roster invitee. Pie hit .303 (10-for-33) in 22 Cactus League games, but he had the right to opt out of his contract on Tuesday.