Shin-Soo Choo returns ahead of schedule from broken thumb

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Shin-Soo Choo was scheduled to come off the disabled list next week, but in a surprise move the Indians activated him today about six weeks into what was initially an 8-10 week recovery timetable for a broken left thumb.

They’re obviously confident that Choo is healthy, but he certainly didn’t show it by going 0-for-6 with two strikeouts in two rehab games at low Single-A.

To make room for Choo on the roster the Indians designated Austin Kearns for assignment after the veteran outfielder hit just .200 with two homers and a .589 OPS in 57 games. Kearns is only owed another $400,000 or so this season, so he’s cheap enough that another team could pick him up as a right-handed bench bat if they’re convinced he still has some upside, but he hasn’t cracked a .750 OPS since 2007.

Choo was also struggling before the injury, hitting .244 with a .687 OPS in 72 games after topping a .300 batting average and .875 OPS in each of the past three seasons. If healthy he’ll provide a huge boost to the Indians as they try to reclaim the AL Central lead, but the early return will be worth keeping an eye on.