CLEVELAND -- It might be time to label Travis Hafner's shoulder issue a chronic condition. Hafner's shoulder saga continued on Thursday, when he was scratched from the lineup for the series finale against the Yankees shortly before batting practice began. Hafner, holed up in the trainer's room, was not available to reporters. But according to Bart Swain, media relations director, the shoulder began bothering Hafner during last Friday's rain-soaked win over the Rays. The game was stopped and restarted twice because of rain delays, and the stopping and starting, it appears, affected Hafner negatively.
The shoulder has affected the 33-year-old Hafner enough this season for him to shorten his swing and try to become more top-hand (in his case, left-hand) dominant. He has managed the shoulder well enough to be available to play on a consistent basis, though manager Manny Acta has made it common practice to rest Hafner against many left-handed starters. Hafner was once a veritable MVP candidate, but his power numbers began to take a tumble in 2007, and he's endured shoulder problems regularly since 2008. He played just 57 games in '08 and had arthroscopic surgery on the shoulder at season's end. Last year, the shoulder limited him to 94 games. This was supposed to be Hafner's first season at full health since 2007, because he was more than a year removed from the surgical procedure. But as Thursday's development proved, the shoulder issue is not going away easily. In 82 games this season, Hafner is batting .267 with nine homers and 33 RBIs.