CLEVELAND -- The first few months of the season have been more challenging than Johnny Damon imagined.
"It's been tough. Florida was the dream," said Damon, a Florida native who spent the 2011 season with Tampa Bay before signing with the Indians after Spring Training this year. "I could drive back and forth if I needed to. I know that my kids don't necessarily need me at home right now, but I don't want to put them on the plane all the time, either."
Damon struggled early in the season as he was hitting just .175 as late as June 16. He has been much better lately -- he was hitting .319 with seven RBIs in 22 games since then, entering Monday -- but he simply hasn't produced like he has throughout his 17-year career.
And with the Indians beginning to slip a bit in the standings -- they'd lost four straight and seven of nine entering Monday -- Damon believes he'll be let go if the team slides out of playoff contention.
"If we're not in contention, I'll be the first one they drop," Damon said. "The team needs to work toward the future. Obviously it's up to [general manager] Chris [Antonetti], but that's the way I see it."
Damon said he would like to continue playing next year if a team signs him before Spring Training, but he admitted retirement has crossed his mind. Damon expected to be a key piece that could help the Indians get to the postseason, and the season hasn't gone the way he envisioned it.
"I've been a pretty good hitter throughout my career," he said, "and I still expect that kind of stuff from myself. When it doesn't happen, you start thinking about [retirement] a bit more."
Indians' Hernandez throws bullpen session
CLEVELAND -- Indians pitcher Roberto Hernandez got back to work on Monday afternoon by throwing a 30-pitch bullpen session in front of the team's coaching staff. Hernandez, formerly Fausto Carmona, returned to Cleveland on Sunday after spending more than six months in his native Dominican Republic following his arrest for using a fake identity.
"[He looked] very good, very smooth," said Tribe manager Manny Acta. "He threw the ball pretty good. Granted, it was just a bullpen, but it was good to see him. Everybody that was over there was pretty happy. He does look like he's been pitching."
Acta said Hernandez will take a couple days off before beginning his Minor League assignment on Thursday. The team has not yet determined at which level Hernandez will pitch, but Acta said Hernandez will throw in the neighborhood of 70 to 75 pitches in his first appearance.
Hernandez is currently serving a three-week suspension issued by Major League Baseball on Saturday. He is eligible to return to the team on Aug. 11.
Optimistic Sizemore set to begin running on field
CLEVELAND -- This could be an important week for Grady Sizemore.
The injured Indians outfielder said Monday he plans to begin running on the field in the next few days. Sizemore reached the running portion of his rehab one time before, but he suffered a setback and was not able to continue.
"It slowly got worse as time went on," said Sizemore, who hasn't played this year after signing a one-year, $5 million deal in the offseason. "We had gotten pretty close to completing that rehab, and we had a setback. It wasn't major, but it was enough to where we had to back off for a couple weeks. It ended up being a good chunk of the season."
Sizemore has successfully added hitting and long toss to his rehab program, but running has been the most difficult part on his ailing back and knees. He started running on an anti-gravity treadmill a few weeks ago, and he said his body has responded well. But Sizemore doesn't know what to expect when he runs on flat ground again.
"The rehab kind of cancels each other out," he said. "You can't rehab your back fully, because your knees restrict you from doing certain things, and you can't rehab your knees fully because your back restricts you. ... There's no game plan for rehabbing multiple parts of your body.
"There's never a day where you're not sore or it doesn't create pain. Every day is pain. So far, I've been a very bad judge of pain. I've pushed through things that have really made things a lot worse and a lot more challenging for me."
Even though he hasn't played since Sept. 22, 2011, Sizemore said he still expects to play this season.
"I think I'll play, it just a matter of when," he said.
But with only a little more than two months remaining in the regular season, a return seems unlikely if Sizemore suffers another setback with his running program.
Quote to note
"My goal is to win the division. Until I'm seven out with six to go, that'll be my goal. My goal will change when you put an 'X' right next to our name." -- Indians manager Manny Acta
All-Star shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera entered Monday night's game against the Orioles in a 7-for-49 slump. Things have been so bad for Cabrera lately that Baltimore closer Jim Johnson worked around Shin-Soo Choo in the ninth inning of Sunday's game to get to him. "He's in a bit of a funk, but he'll come out of it," Acta said. "I don't see it as he has big issues. If the other guys aren't hitting, it's going to be very noticeable."
The Indians entered Monday's game having scored only six runs during the first four games of their homestand. Five of those runs were driven in by four homers.
Catcher Carlos Santana had reached base safely in 16 consecutive games entering Monday. Santana batted .292 (14-for-48) with four doubles, two homers, seven RBIs and 16 walks during that stretch.
Justin Albers is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.