NEW YORK -- Just as Travis Hafner has begun putting up more consistent at-bats, his playing time has become a little less consistent this week.
Hafner, whose 12-game hitting streak was snapped Friday night, was out of the Tribe's starting lineup for the third time in five games Saturday. Manager Manny Acta said he wanted to give Hafner a break from one of the three consecutive day games the Indians are playing in the Bronx this weekend.
"We chose this one [Saturday]," Acta said, "because it's a day game after a night game."
Acta said the move had nothing to do with the Indians facing left-hander CC Sabathia. Still, it's worth noting Hafner is batting just .216 off lefties this season, and he was also on the bench when the Indians faced White Sox left-handers John Danks on Monday and Mark Buehrle on Wednesday.
Regardless of the handedness of the opposition, red flags arise whenever Hafner is out of the lineup with any regularity, because of the shoulder issues that severely limited his playing time in 2008 and '09. Acta and Hafner both insist the shoulder has not been an issue this season.
Still, Hafner has not been the seven-day-a-week designated hitter he once was. Nor has he displayed the power he once possessed. Of his 38 hits this season, 12 have gone for extra bases (four homers and eight doubles).
But Hafner has certainly made progress with his production. He hit .378 (17-for-45) with a homer and six RBIs during his hitting streak. He's hit safely in 16 of his past 20 games since May 4, batting .375 (24-for-64) with five doubles, two homers and 10 RBIs, raising his average from .208 to .275.
"I've really tried to get good pitches to hit and shore up my plate discipline," Hafner said. "That's made a big difference."