Indians' Shin-Soo Choo returns from DL

CLEVELAND -- Outfielder Shin-Soo Choo is back in the Cleveland Indians' lineup -- in an new role.

Choo was activated from the 15-day disabled list Friday and put in the leadoff spot as Cleveland started a three-game home series against the Minnesota Twins.

"I'm ready, I think," said Choo, adding he could not recall hitting leadoff since 2006 in the minors.

Choo had been on the DL since June 25, one day after he was struck on the left thumb with a pitch from the San Francisco Giants' Jonathan Sanchez. Choo, who underwent surgery on the thumb, hit .244 with five homers and 28 RBIs in 72 games before the injury. He played three games this week at Class A Lake County on a rehab assignment.

"I want to get as many at-bats as I can for him as quick as possible," manager Manny Acta said. "He swung the bat well in batting practice."

Choo said the skin around his thumb is still tender but he feels no pain throwing or hitting.

"I feel good, but I haven't been jammed yet," Choo said, referring to trying to hit an inside pitch.

The outfielder is more concerned with his wife being near to delivering the couple's third child -- and their first girl.

"I am more nervous this time," Choo said. "With a boy, you have to worry about one girl. With a girl, you have to worry about all men."

Choo's return relieves some of the concerns experienced by Acta, who has had to mix and match outfielders for months due to injuries. Grady Sizemore is not due back until September and now Michael Brantley is out with a sore right wrist. Acta does not believe Brantley will miss much time but had Kosuke Fukudome move over to center from right field to make room for Choo, while shifting rookie Ezequiel Carrera to left from center.

"No DL," Acta said flatly about Brantley's status. "He's taking batting practice today and we'll see how he does."

Brantley skirted the issue when asked if he thought he could play.

"I always want to play, but it is management's call, the training staff's call," said Brantley, who could not pinpoint when he hurt the wrist.

"I don't know exactly what did it, can't recall one incident," Brantley said. "The trainers are taking good care of me and I look forward to participating in all drills and see how it goes."

To make room for Choo, the Indians designated veteran outfielder Austin Kearns for assignment. Kearns hit .200 (30-for-150) in 57 games for the Indians. He signed a one-year deal with Cleveland in December.

"It's always tough to make a move like that, especially with a guy who has been so good with the young players in the clubhouse," Acta said.