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Kipnis nearing assignment; Morgan avoids surgery

CLEVELAND -- The Indians had good news Friday on a pair of sidelined players: All-Star second baseman Jason Kipnis is nearing a Minor League rehab assignment, and injured outfielder Nyjer Morgan has avoided knee surgery.

Kipnis, who is on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right oblique, advanced from hitting off a tee to front toss on Friday. Cleveland manager Terry Francona said the team is currently exploring when the second baseman can begin playing rehab games in the Minors.

"Kip is doing baseball activities and champing at the bit," Francona said. "We're working out a schedule for him to start playing probably not too far down the road -- next week some time."

On his way to a pregame workout, Kipnis said he was feeling much improved since injuring his side on a swing in a game against the Angels on April 29. Cleveland's orginal timetable for Kipnis to return to game action was an estimated three to five weeks.

"We're making our way -- ahead of schedule," Kipnis said. "We're not rushing it, and we're showing good signs right now. We're going to just take all the necessary steps."

Morgan exited Wednesday's game against the Blue Jays after the fifth inning, when he hit his right knee on the turf while trying to track down a double off the bat of Adam Lind, and was placed on the 15-day DL on Thursday. Francona said an MRI exam revealed a sprain of the posterior cruciate ligament in Morgan's knee, but the outfielder is not expected to need surgery.

"Now, we just have to wait and see how quickly that heals," Francona said, "to a point where it doesn't bother him and he can run. That's different for everybody. You've got to get the swelling out of there. Structurally, he's in good shape. I think that was probably as good of news [as we could've received]."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian.
Read More: Cleveland Indians, Nyjer Morgan, Jason Kipnis