CLEVELAND -- Friday figures to mark a critical day in the recovery of Travis Hafner.
Hafner, placed on the 15-day disabled list Aug. 3 with right shoulder inflammation, will take batting practice prior to the Indians' series opener against the Mariners at Progressive Field. The response of his shoulder to the session could dictate how soon the burly designated hitter returns to the Tribe.
"We're going to have him take a lot of swings, just like normal BP," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "We'll see how he feels after that and talk about the possibility of him going [on a Minor League rehabilitation assignment] and getting a few at-bats before he joins us."
Through 82 games in 2010, Hafner is hitting .267 with nine home runs and 33 RBIs. The 33-year-old has not played in more than 95 games since the 2007 campaign, when he was considered a premier American League slugger.
These days, Acta would happily settle for an injury-free Hafner in the middle of his batting order.
"All I want is this guy to be healthy," Acta said. "Whether he's going to go back to where he was before, I don't know. We'll find out. All we can ask for is for him to be in our lineup."
Could Hafner, owed $13 million each of the next two seasons, be relegated to part-time duty should he not produce?
"If at some point he's not helping the ballclub," Acta said, "then that decision is going to have to be made, whether we're going to cut down his playing time or whatever we have to do. As far as being concerned right now, all we want is for him to be healthy.
"Hafner is the No. 1 guy who wants to be playing well. I'm sure he feels he's not doing what people are expecting of him, but only he knows how he feels. You can't be passing judgment on people who are hurt without being in their body. Hopefully he gets to a point where he can help us out. That's all I can ask for."