CLEVELAND — Grady Sizemore isn’t going anywhere — except back to center field for the Cleveland Indians as soon as he is fully recovered from knee surgery.
New general manager Chris Antonetti refuted trade rumors involving Sizemore, a three-time All-Star, during a meeting with fans Thursday night in a town hall setting in downtown Cleveland.
“I don’t comment on individual players, but in this instance I will say we have had absolutely no discussions with any team regarding Grady,” Antonetti said. “His rehab has gone as well as can be expected. He’s already in our training camp in Goodyear, (Ariz.), doing baseball-related activities. It is hopeful he will be in spring training games by mid-March.”
Antonetti said a healthy Sizemore and Carlos Santana, a switch-hitting catcher who was in the midst of a strong rookie season before getting hurt, can help boost the Indians into AL Central contention this year. Both players had their 2010 seasons cut short by knee surgery as Cleveland finished fourth with a 69-93 record.
“Certainly a lot of things must go right, but I don’t think there should be a limit on our expectations,” Antonetti said. “We were disappointed last year and will be disappointed this year if we’re not in the playoffs.”
Cleveland manager Manny Acta said he’s eager to show that the Indians can contend. He pointed to a young pitching staff that had the fourth-lowest ERA in the AL in the second half of 2010 as being a good starting point, but acknowledged he’ll be trying to find both a starting third baseman and second baseman during camp.
“The competition at third is up for grabs,” Acta said. “I like competition.”
Entering his second year in Cleveland, Acta will be looking at several rookies at both open infield spots, including Lonnie Chisenhall, Jared Goedert, Jason Kipnis and Cord Phelps. Veterans Jayson Nix, Jason Donald, Luis Valbuena and Adam Everett are among others in the mix.
Antonetti’s only major signing since replacing Mark Shapiro as GM in October was free-agent outfielder Austin Kearns, who started the 2010 season with Cleveland and was dealt to the New York Yankees in June.
“We don’t want to bring in a guy just to say we can,” Antonetti said. “We had the youngest team in the league last year and believe the nucleus is in place. We’ll start with the guys we have internally. We hope some of them (rookies) can force our hand and earn playing time this year.”