CLEVELAND — Right ankle inflammation kept Travis Hafner out of the lineup for the second consecutive game Friday, but the Indians aren’t concerned that the injury is serious.
The Indians were still awaiting results from an MRI performed on the ankle Friday, but manager Manny Acta said prior to the series opener with Detroit that Hafner was available to pinch hit.
“We want to make sure everything is OK,” Acta said. “We want to be on the safe side and give him one more day off.”
Hafner, who is off to a promising start — .342 with four home runs and 11 RBIs in 21 games — sustained the injury while sliding into home plate in the first inning of a 7-2 victory over the Royals on Wednesday. He did not take batting practice Friday.
As he did Thursday, Shelley Duncan replaced Hafner at designated hitter and in the fifth spot in the batting order.
Duncan, who entered Friday hitting .348 (8-for-23) with a homer and five RBIs in nine games — has been a valuable part-time player for the Indians the past two seasons.
“That’s his responsibility,” Acta said. “From Day 1, he has never been offered a fulltime job. You have to understand your role and prepare for it.
“He’s done a nice job for us. He’s a big part of our clubhouse. He’s a high-character guy.”
Duncan and second baseman Orlando Cabrera are part of a mix of veterans on Cleveland’s roster that Acta believes has provided leadership for a youth-laden club.
“It’s important to have high-character guys,” Acta said. “When you have high-character guys around like we have, it makes the job of the manager and the coaches easier. Guys tend to listen to their peers a lot.”
Wait and see
Though he is expected to make at least two starts in place of an injured Carlos Carrasco, Acta would only commit to one for right-hander Alex White, who will make his big league debut tonight.
“He’s going to start (today) and then we’ll go from there,” Acta said. “If I tell you two and he gives up 55 runs, does that mean he gets another one? Hopefully Alex will take advantage of his opportunity.”
The Indians will officially promote White (1-0, 1.90 ERA in four starts) from Triple-A Columbus today. They will have to clear a spot on their 25-man roster, with reliever Frank Herrmann expected to be optioned back to the minors. A spot on the 40-man roster will also have to be cleared for White, who will wear No. 32.
The Indians added two players to Columbus’ roster Friday, activating infielder Jason Donald and assigning infielder Josh Rodriguez to the Clippers.
Donald was Cleveland’s projected starter at third base when training camp opened but was sidelined early by a left hand fracture. He hit .200 (5-for-25) with two runs in eight games of a rehab assignment with Columbus and Double-A Akron.
Rodriguez was re-acquired by the Indians for $25,000 after being selected by Pittsburgh in the Rule V Draft this offseason. Rodriguez had to remain on the big league roster the entire season or the Pirates had to return him or another player to the Indians at half the price he was acquired for.
Rodriguez made Pittsburgh’s opening day roster but was designated for assignment after going 1-for-12 in seven games.
The Indians have a wealth of infielders at the Triple-A level, including top prospects Lonnie Chisenhall, Cord Phelps and Jason Kipnis, as well as Luis Valbuena, who spent parts of last year as the Indians’ starting second baseman.
One of them could be removed from the 40-man roster to clear a spot for White.
Right-hander Adam Miller, once considered the Indians’ top pitching prospect, has cleared another hurdle on his comeback trail.
Miller, whose career has been sidelined by multiple surgeries on his right middle finger, was assigned to advanced Class A Kinston’s roster after spending the last month in Goodyear, Ariz., at extended spring training.
The 31st overall pick in the 2003 draft began his career as a hard-throwing starter that gained fame by topping 100-mph at his first big league training camp, but he will pitch exclusively as a reliever at Kinston.
Miller, 26, hasn’t appeared in a professional game since May of 2008.
Columbus beat Gwinett 2-1 Thursday for its eighth straight win, with right-hander Zach McAllister (4-0, 3.38 ERA) getting the decision after pitching seven scoreless innings on six hits and striking out six. Third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall (.270) went 2-for-4 with his second homer of the season. … Akron’s Cory Burns had converted all seven of his save opportunities through Thursday. Burns, an eighth-round draft pick (2009) out of the University of Arizona, entered Friday with a 1.35 ERA and 15 strikeouts over 6 2/3 innings. … Class A Lake County outfielder Carlos Moncrief was recently named Midwest League player of the week. The 14th-round draft pick in 2008, entered Friday leading the ML with 19 runs and ranked third with 12 extra-base hits.
Shin-Soo Choo’s batting average was at .250 entering Friday, the right fielder hitting .309 (21-for-68) with three homers and 13 RBIs over his last 18 games. … The Indians entered Friday with a 13-2 record when scoring first. … Tonight, 6:05, STO/WTAM 1100-AM/WEOL 930-AM. White (first career start) vs. Porcello (1-2, 4.76).
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or firstname.lastname@example.org.