CLEVELAND — Indians manager Manny Acta had some surprising news prior to Wednesday’s game against Oakland — designated hitter Travis Hafner will play again before the season is complete.
There was strong speculation that Hafner’s year was over after he was placed on the disabled list with a right foot strain and Cleveland traded for Jim Thome to replace him in the lineup. But things changed after an evaluation by team doctors Wednesday.
“He got some encouraging news. I think we’re going to be able to see him again,” Acta said. “We don’t have a timetable yet, but that’s encouraging news to know that he’s going to join our club and be able to play again this year.”
With neither Thome and Hafner able to play on a nightly basis, Acta envisions a platoon at DH.
“Coming from the injury that Hafner’s going to be coming back from, obviously he’s not going to be able to play every single day,” Acta said. “Thome’s in the same situation, so they’ll share duties.
“It’ll give me an advantage now in September. I’ll be able to pinch run for either of them in the seventh now, and then I’ll have whichever didn’t play to bat in the ninth.”
Hafner, who has been on the DL twice this season, is batting .281 with 11 home runs and 49 RBIs in 82 games.
The Indians’ last opportunity to trade for a player came to an end at midnight Wednesday. A club that already added Ubaldo Jimenez, Kosuke Fukudome and Thome had not made a move by gametime.
“(General manager) Chris (Antonetti) has continued trying to improve this team the best way possible. I have been a witness to that,” Acta said. “But it is a complicated process.”
Grady Sizemore (right knee) began a rehab assignment Wednesday for Double-A Akron, serving as the designated hitter and going 0-for-3. He is expected to play six innings in center field for the Aeros tonight, but there is still no timetable for his return.
“It all depends on his progress,” Acta said. “That’s why we can’t sit here and say three to four days or whatever. It all depends on how he feels and when he feels he is going to be able to come up here and contribute.”
Outfielder Michael Brantley underwent surgery on his right hand Wednesday and is expected to make a full recovery.
Brantley was shut down for the season Sunday. He hit .266 with seven homers and 46 RBIs in 114 games.
After a slow start, Fukudome has settled in to his new surroundings. The outfielder acquired at the trading deadline from the Cubs entered Wednesday batting .320 (24-for-75) with seven doubles, a homer and eight RBIs over his last 19 games.
He was batting .283 in his first 30 games with Cleveland through Tuesday, driving in his 13th run for the Indians with a sacrifice fly in the first inning. He had the same RBI total in 87 games for the Cubs.
“I have to give it to him,” Acta said. “From Day 1, he’s been good in the clubhouse. It takes time to get comfortable with new surroundings and new teammates. He’s give us everything he’s got. He’s done a lot of good things.”
“I think I’m getting used to the team,” Fukudome said through an interpreter. “I still have pitchers I don’t know, but I think I’m able to do some things I want to do at the plate.”
Outfielder Trevor Crowe had one of Triple-A Columbus’ two hits Tuesday in a 2-1 loss at Louisville. It was Crowe’s first game with the Clippers after his rehab assignment was transferred from the Arizona League Indians. … As a pinch hitter on his 24th birthday Tuesday, High-A Kinston infielder Tyler Cannon drove in the game-winning run with a single in a 2-1 victory over Frederick. Cannon, a 12th-round draft pick last year, entered Wednesday batting .253 with six homers and 38 RBIs in 85 games.
Today is the day that major league rosters can expand to 40 players. … Of the nine players in the Indians’ lineup Wednesday, six of them had zero or one homer on the season. … Cleveland’s game time at Texas on Sept. 14 has been moved from 8:05 p.m. to 7:05 to accommodate ESPN, which will televise the game nationally. It will be blacked out in Cleveland but can be seen locally on STO. … Today, 12:05, MLB.TV/WTAM 1100-AM/WEOL 930-AM. Carmona (6-12, 4.85) vs. Gonzalez (11-11, 3.45).
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