On Friday, Cleveland placed its ailing designated hitter on the 15-day disabled list due to a strained right oblique. Hafner injured himself during the third round of pregame batting practice on Wednesday in Chicago and is expected to be sidelined for three to four weeks.
"It's about a 6-foot-3, 240-pound blow," Indians manager Manny Acta said prior to Friday's Interleague tilt against the Reds. "It's a big blow. Obviously, he's a big part of our lineup and he's been swinging the bat so good from Day 1.
- 131 wins
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"But, you know what? You have to deal with it. Every team is dealing with some type of injuries."
With Hafner out of the picture for now, the Indians promoted outfielder Ezequiel Carrera from Triple-A Columbus to hopefully give their bench a boost. The Indians also optioned infielder Luis Valbuena to Columbus in order to recall reliever Frank Herrmann from Triple-A.
Hafner's injury was initially described as "rib soreness" by Acta, but an MRI on Friday revealed "some issues with his oblique," according to the manager. Hafner joins center fielder Grady Sizemore (right knee) on the 15-day DL, robbing the Indians of two of their most potent bats.
"It's kind of tough to substitute those two guys," Acta said, "especially with the way they were swinging the bat. We mention here always how much one guy changes the whole lineup, because of how you can stretch your lineup. Two makes a big difference."
Through 32 games for the Indians entering Friday, the 33-year-old Hafner has hit .345, which was the third-best mark in the American League. Hafner also had eight doubles, five homers and 22 RBIs. Sizemore, who is eligible for activation from the DL on May 27, has hit .282 with six homers and 11 RBIs through 18 games.
Acta said he plans on rotating different players in and out of the designated hitter slot during Hafner's absence. For Friday's game against Cincinnati, Shelley Duncan got the nod as the DH. Players such as Travis Buck, Carlos Santana and Matt LaPorta could also see time in that role.
Given the fact that the Indians currently reside in first place in the American League Central, Acta said that the loss of Hafner and Sizemore is a little easier to absorb for the ballclub.
"What makes it easier for us is at least we have a little cushion," Acta said. "We have played well enough for the last month and a half that it's easier to take that blow than if we would've been chasing three or four teams."