CLEVELAND -- Shin-Soo Choo doesn't want to spend another minute this summer watching the Indians -- or reruns -- on TV. He's off the couch and on the field.
The Indians' best all-around player, Choo was activated from the disabled list after being sidelined since July 3 with a sprained right thumb.
"I really missed playing baseball," the outfielder said before the Indians opened a three-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays. "Sitting and watching on TV is really tough. I really wanted to do something for the team and I couldn't."
Choo injured his thumb while diving for a fly ball in a July 2 game. For a while, it appeared he might have to undergo surgery. But he made a remarkably quick comeback and was in manager Manny Acta's lineup on Friday, batting third and playing right field.
"It's nice to have him back," Acta said. "He's another threat to our lineup. He gives us stability, and he can do more than just hit."
The Rays came in hoping to snap a 17-game losing streak in Cleveland. It will be tougher to end now that Choo's back.
"He's one of the best players in the league," Tampa manager Joe Maddon said. "He's a complete player and when I managed the All-Stars last year, I tried to figure out a way to get him on the team. He plays all aspects of the game and plays them very well."
Choo's injury was both a blow to the Indians and it cost him a spot on the AL's All-Star team. When he went down, Choo was batting .286 with 13 homers, 43 RBIs and 12 steals. His return will drop switch-hitting catcher Carlos Santana into the cleanup spot for the first time.
Choo said his thumb isn't completely healed, but he doesn't expect it to cause him any trouble.
"I don't feel anything," he said. "It's not like normal."
To make room for Choo, the Indians placed left-hander Aaron Laffey on the 15-day DL with "shoulder fatigue." Laffey underwent an MRI that did not show any structural damage, and team doctors are hoping rest will help. He has complained about his arm being "tired" and his fastball was several miles per hour slower in his last start on July 19.
Acta would not speculate on a timetable for Laffey's return.
"As long as it takes," he said. "I'm not good at medicine at all."
Laffey, who has bounced between the bullpen and rotation with Cleveland and Triple-A Columbus this season, is 2-3 with a 4.62 ERA in 25 games. He was the Indians' scheduled starter for Sunday, an assignment that will now go to Justin Masterson, who is being pushed back.
Laffey's spot will not come up again until Tuesday against the New York Yankees, but Acta would not say who he'll use against the defending World Series champions.
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press
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