CLEVELAND – An extended stint out of the lineup would affect most hitters. Not Travis Hafner apparently.
After being saddled to the bench for nine straight games during a recent interleague road trip, Hafner, who was hot prior to the trip, picked up where he left off. Through the first two games of the homestand, the designated hitter went 3-for-7 with a pair of doubles, an RBI and two runs.
“I thought after nine days of inactivity that it might take a few days to get his timing down, but that wasn’t the case,” said Cleveland manager Manny Acta. “He’s swung the bat well from the get-go.”
Acta joked with Hafner that the time off actually helped him.
“He said I was well-rested,” Hafner said. “I just laughed.”
Though Hafner was limited to just five pinch-hit appearances (0-for-5) at the National League parks, he stayed sharp by increasing his workload with hitting instructor John Nunnally.
“I was able to do a lot of stuff swing-wise on the road,” Hafner said.
Hafner entered the interleague trip swinging the bat as well as he has all season. He was hitting .344 (11-for-32) with three home runs and seven RBIs in his last 14 games through Tuesday, hitting safely in each of his last eight starts. The hot streak had his season average up to .254 (eight homers, 29 RBIs).
“Hopefully he’ll continue to do that because we need his bat in the middle of our lineup,” Acta said.
One of the many things that have impressed the Indians about Carlos Santana thus far is the catcher’s discipline at the plate. He entered Wednesday with 13 walks and just seven strikeouts and rarely swings at a bad pitch.
“He’s got some special attributes,” Acta said of the projected star that entered Wednesday with the sixth-highest OPS (1.160) in the majors since June 11.
Closer Kerry Wood told reporters that he is working on a new pitch but would not disclose what it was and said he has yet to use it in a game. It was news to Acta.
“I just found that out,” Acta said. “I’m happy with his 95 mph fastball, curveball and changeup.”
Wood was unavailable Wednesday after saving three straight games (in three days) for just the second time in his career.
Renowned hand specialist and orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Thomas Graham, examined Asdrubal Cabrera’s fractured left forearm Wednesday.
“Asdrubal is right on target,” said Acta of the shortstop, who is expected to begin a minor league rehab assignment after the All-Star break.
Graham was also expected to examine infielder Jason Donald, who missed four games with a jammed left wrist, but was back in the lineup Wednesday.
Triple-A Columbus outfielders Michael Brantley and Jose Constanza were named to the International League team for the Triple-A All-Star Game against the Pacific Coast League on July 14 in Allentown, Pa. Brantley, who was hitting .310 with three homers, 25 RBIs and 45 runs in 56 games and ranked fifth in the IL with a .384 on-base percentage through Tuesday, was named as a starter. Constanza is a reserve, batting .326 with 18 stolen bases in 20 attempts through Tuesday. … Third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall, outfielder John Drennen and reliever Bryce Stowell were chosen to represent Double-A Akron at the Eastern League All-Star Game, July 14, in Harrisburg, Pa. Chisenhall, who will also participate in the XM All-Star Futures Game, entered Wednesday batting .276 with six homers and 28 RBIs in 56 games. Drennen was hitting .299 with five triples, two homers and 30 RBIs in 63 games through Tuesday, while Stowell had not allowed a run in 20 innings (26 strikeouts) since being promoted from advanced Class A Kinston.
Indians relievers had allowed just 33 of their 144 inherited runners to score (22.9 percent), which ranked first in the American League and second in the majors through Tuesday. … Reliever Rafael Perez entered Wednesday having not allowed an earned run over his last 13 appearances (10 2/3 innings). … Today, 12:05, No television/WTAM 1100-AM/WEOL 930-AM. Masterson (2-7, 5.21) vs. Marcum (7-3, 3.14).
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or email@example.com.