By CHRIS ASSENHEIMER
CLEVELAND â€” The Indians decided sooner was better Friday, activating Victor Martinez from the disabled list rather than waiting for the September call-up period.
â€œWe wanted to get our eyes on him,â€ said manager Eric Wedge, who had Martinez in the lineup at first base for the series opener with Seattle, batting him fifth. â€œHeâ€™s far enough along catching-wise that we wanted to get him up here and see where heâ€™s at.â€
Wedge said that Martinez would not return to his catching job on a fulltime basis and that he wouldnâ€™t play every day at any position over the remainder of the season. The Indians want to proceed carefully with one of their top run producers, who hit a combined .308 (8-for-26) with a home run and three RBI in eight minor league rehab games for Triple-A Buffalo and Double-A Akron.
â€œHeâ€™s not going to be catching every day,â€ Wedge said. â€œWe want to make sure that when the season is over heâ€™s beyond this injury and has no issues next year.â€
Martinez strained a hamstring in the season opener but played through that before being placed on the disabled list June 12 and undergoing subsequent surgery on his right elbow. He was expected to miss 6-8 weeks, but wound up being sidelined for close to three months.
â€œI donâ€™t know if it took longer or not, but I can tell you I really feel good,â€ said Martinez, who hit .278 without a homer and 21 RBI in 54 games prior to the injury.
The Indians have missed Martinez but have played well in his absence, especially as of late, riding a season-high 10-game winning streak.
â€œTheyâ€™ve been playing great ball,â€ said Martinez, who drew a rousing ovation from the Progressive Field fans during his first at-bat in the second inning. â€œI canâ€™t say much beyond that, because Iâ€™ve been in the minor leagues trying to get back.â€
Travis Hafner can relate.
Hafner, out since May 30 with a right shoulder strain, suffered a setback during his rehab assignment with Buffalo but has returned to the Bisons, going 1-for-3 with a double in a 3-2 victory over Scranton on Thursday.
Wedge said Hafner will stay with Buffalo until its season ends Monday and will be re-evaluated at that point and possibly activated.
â€œHeâ€™s moving forward,â€ said Wedge of Hafner, who entered Friday hitting .313 (5-for-16) with three doubles and three RBI in five games for the Bisons.
Assenheimer may be reached at email@example.com or 440-329-7137.