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Published: Sunday, 2/28/2010

Sizemore OK with hitting No. 2

ASSOCIATED PRESS

GOODYEAR, Ariz. - Grady Sizemore has a new spot in the Indians batting order: second.

Cleveland's new manager, Manny Acta, is going to move one of the better leadoff hitters in baseball to the second spot and try Asdrubal Cabrera at the top.

Acta, hired as manager in October, made it a point to discuss the situation with Sizemore before announcing a decision.

"He's onboard," Acta said yesterday. "We wanted to make sure we gave him the respect that he deserved and talk to him in person. We gave him an opportunity to digest the move and he's OK with it. It's something I had in mind since day one, but you don't send messages through the press when it comes to things like that."

Said Sizemore: "He wanted to get my opinion on it. I told him I was fine with wherever he wanted to put me. I want to do what's best for the team."

Sizemore, a career .275 hitter, played in only 106 games last season because of elbow and groin injuries, batting .248. He had surgery on both in September.

But he was one of the most productive leadoff men in the major leagues the previous four seasons averaging 116 runs scored and 29 stolen bases. He made the American League All-Star team three straight seasons from 2006-08.

Acta said he doesn't want Sizemore, who has a career .366 on-base percentage, to change his approach.

"I'll take the All-Star Grady Sizemore we've had here the last few years," Acta said. "I'm not asking him to bunt more. I'm not asking to take more pitches. I'm asking him to be Grady and good things will happen anyway."

Sizemore has averaged 132 strikeouts the last five seasons, but Acta doesn't think that has been a big detriment.

"He still has a high on-base percentage and produces and scores a lot of runs," Acta said.

Acta thinks the move will give Sizemore, who has averaged 25 homers and 78 RBIs the last five seasons, the chance to drive in more runs.

"We think it's best for the team," Acta said. "Once a lineup rolls over, he's going have a guy hitting in front of him and a guy hitting ninth and he'll have the opportunity to drive them in."

Former manager Eric Wedge tried the switch briefly last season. Sizemore had 109 at-bats in the second spot, batting .257.

"I didn't do anything different last year, and I'm not going to do anything different this year," Sizemore said.

Cabrera had 133 at-bats leading off, where he hit .301. He batted .308 with 17 stolen bases and 81 runs scored last season."He'll be the ideal guy right now," Acta said.



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