CLEVELAND -- The return of center fielder Bradley Zimmer to the Tribe's lineup could come sooner rather than later.
Indians manager Terry Francona indicated Friday that Zimmer is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment with Double-A Akron on Saturday. Zimmer, who has been sidelined since May 15 with a left rib contusion, is slated to play the outfield Saturday, followed by a game as the designated hitter on Sunday before being further evaluated.
"He had a good day today," Francona said prior to Friday's game against the Astros.
The decision to have Zimmer join Akron rather than Triple-A Columbus is due to the Clippers being on the road in Georgia, facing Gwinnett as part of a lengthy road trip.
Francona also noted that sidelined outfielders Brandon Guyer and Lonnie Chisenhall will also have rehab stints with Akron this weekend. Guyer has been on the 10-day disabled list since May 20 with a left cervical strain, and Chisenhall has been out since April 8 with a right calf strain.
Chisenhall and Guyer were in right and left field, respectively, for Akron during Friday's game against Double-A Richmond. According to Francona, Chisenhall will play right field again Saturday, with Guyer serving as the DH. There is still no announced timetable for their return to the Indians.
• First baseman Yonder Alonso was the first Indians player to reach base in Thursday's 8-2 loss to the Astros, doing so with a bunt down the third-base line that easily beat Houston's defensive shift. Francona had no problem with Alonso using that approach to reach base.
"There are times when, I think, a baserunner is as important as driving the ball, bunts are good," Francona said. "If you talk to older baseball people, they'd be more hesitant to do that, but I don't think they had to deal with all the shifting that's involved. So maybe it's changing some of your philosophy a little, where not only do you get on base, but you can make defenses maybe play you more honest."
• Reliever Nicholas Goody (10-day DL, right elbow) is still feeling symptoms related to the elbow injury he sustained on May 3 against the Blue Jays. The righty has not yet resumed his throwing program and is instead working through range of motion and strengthening exercises.
• The Indians announced Friday they signed right-hander Mitch Talbot to a Minor League deal, and he will make his first start with Triple-A Columbus on Saturday. Talbot, who has spent parts of the last two seasons with the Sugar Land Skeeters in the independent Atlantic League, made 40 starts for the Indians in 2010 and '11, posting a 12-19 record with 5.04 ERA.
• Hailey Dawson, 7, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before Saturday's game against the Astros with a customized 3D printed hand. Dawson was born with Poland Syndrome, a rare birth defect that affected the development of her right hand. Her goal is to throw the first pitch at every Major League ballpark, and Progressive Field will be the eighth ballpark she will visit.