- Associated Press - Monday, May 23, 2011

CLEVELAND (AP) - With Grady Sizemore close to returning from the disabled list, Indians manager Manny Acta joked the outfielder has another major hurdle to overcome.

“He has to beat the onion in the hot-dog race for us to consider activating him,” Acta deadpanned.

During each home game, hot dog topping-themed characters Onion, Ketchup and Mustard race around the track at Progressive Field.

At least the club is now able to laugh off Sizemore’s injury.

A week ago, there was some concern when the Indians put Sizemore on the 15-day disabled list with a bruised right kneecap he injured sliding into second on May 10. Sizemore played in just 33 games last season before undergoing microfracture surgery on his left knee, and the Indians were worried they might be without the three-time All-Star for an extended period.

However, Sizemore, who looked fully healed in his comeback, has made good progress. He will likely be activated on Thursday _ an off-day _ before the Indians make a trip to Tampa Bay and Toronto.

Before Monday’s series opener against Boston, Sizemore did agility drills as trainer Lonnie Soloff watched in the outfield. Sizemore also took batting practice.

“He had a good day,” Acta said. “He ran well and did everything he was asked him to do. He ran side to side and felt good. The next step is probably going to be running in the bases in the next couple days and then we’ll have a better idea after that.”

Cleveland has baseball’s best record, but is eager to get Sizemore back. The Indians are also without DH Travis Hafner, who is on the DL with a sprained side muscle. Sizemore and Hafner make Cleveland’s lineup that much tougher, and it’s a credit the Indians have played so well despite not having two of their best hitters.

Acta said Sizemore will not go on a minor league rehab assignment before being activated.

Sizemore is batting .282 with six homers, 10 doubles, 11 RBIs and 15 runs in 18 games. Before getting hurt, he didn’t appear to lose any speed and was able to run down fly balls in the gap the way he always did.

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