April 16, 2014

Medina
Partly cloudy
35°F

Indians notes: Choo starting to heat up

CLEVELAND — The Indians have been waiting all season for Shin-Soo Choo to get hot.

He’s there.

Choo, who appeared poised for a breakout 2011, has slumped through the majority of it, but since May 7, Cleveland’s resident five-tool player is batting .333 (16-for-48) with a home run and seven RBIs to raise his average from .217 to .250 through Sunday.

“Don’t look at the board yet, but he’s hitting .250 already,” manager Manny Acta Acta said of Choo, who entered Monday riding a nine-game hitting streak, batting .375 (12-for-32) with a homer and five RBIs over the span. “It’s been steady progress. You gotta be patient. You have to understand that you aren’t going to go from .200 to .300 in one series.”

Though Choo hasn’t been swinging the bat as predicted, he has drawn 19 walks in 44 games.

“He’s not afraid to take a walk,” Acta said. “Obviously they aren’t going to pitch to him, so he’s got to find another way to get on base sometimes.”

Cleveland’s other season-long slumper, catcher Carlos Santana, has yet to turn the corner, entering Monday with a .208 batting average. In an 0-for-15 skid at the plate, Santana got the night off.

“It’s always good to give him a chance to regroup mentally,” Acta said.

Sizemore’s status

Grady Sizemore is scheduled to run the bases Wednesday for the first time since sustaining a bruised right knee — the final hurdle to clear before being activated from the disabled list.

Sizemore has been taking batting practice since last Friday and the Indians are hopeful he will leave the disabled list for the series opener against Tampa Bay this Friday.

“We’ll have a better idea after (he runs the bases),” Acta said. “We’re gonna have to see how he comes through that.”

Acta said Sizemore would not require a rehab assignment before returning.

Rising star

Outfielder Michael Brantley finally looks comfortable on the big-league level, entering Monday with a .296 batting average, four homers and 22 RBIs in 42 games.

“He’s turning himself into one of those players that eventually will be able to hit first to seventh,” Acta said. “He’s not afraid to work the count. He’s developing a little more power.

“I really trust Michael at the plate in any situation. He’s going to be a pretty good hitter. He has all the intangibles to be a great player.”

Asked if he would consider moving Sizemore down in the order and batting Brantley leadoff — a spot he has assumed with Sizemore on the DL.

“I can consider anything I want,” Acta said. “Let’s save that one for when Grady comes back.”

Friendly fire

Red Sox manager Terry Francona is one of the many who wasn’t sure what to make of the Indians after they swept his club at Progressive Field during the first week of the regular season.

“When we played them early on it was the second series of the year,” Francona said. “When you’re six games into the season, you don’t know what’s going to happen, but since then, they’ve really taken off.

“It’s amazing when teams play inspired baseball, and they are. They’re playing with confidence. You never know where it’s going to lead, but I’m sure they’re excited.”

Francona spent a year (2001) in the Indians organization as a special assistant to then general manager Mark Shapiro.

“I don’t know that (how the Indians are playing) should be a surprise,” Francona said. “The people they have here, the front office, they’ve got good people. They know what they’re doing.”

Minor details

Triple-A Columbus’ Lonnie Chisenhall went 2-for-5 with his fourth homer in a 7-6 win over Durham on Sunday. Chisenhall was batting .272 with 24 RBIs in 41 games through Sunday. … Double-A Akron’s Tim Fedroff extended his hitting streak to 16 games in a 5-4 loss to Altoona on Sunday. Fedroff entered Monday batting an Eastern League-best .376 in 39 games. … High-A Kinston’s Justin Toole had three of his team’s nine hits in a 6-5 victory over Frederick on Sunday. Toole, acquired as a minor-league free agent in 2009, entered Monday batting .298 with nine doubles and 13 RBIs in 36 games.

Roundin’ third

Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera went 5-for-5 with two homers and five RBIs in a sweep-clinching victory over the Reds on Sunday. He is the second shortstop in history to reach those numbers in a game and the first since Cincinnati’s Roy McMillan in 1946. Cabrera entered Monday batting .360 (27-for-75) with four homers and 15 RBIs in 18 games. … Tonight, 7:05, STO/WTAM 1100-AM/WEOL 930-AM. Carmona (3-4, 4.76) vs. Beckett (3-1, 1.73).

Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.