CLEVELAND -- Travis Hafner returned from injury, made a brief cameo appearance, then retreated to hibernation. Now, finally, the Indians have their fielding-averse slugger back in the lineup for good.
Hafner returned from the 15-day disabled list on June 17 just in time for a quick, six-game homestand before the Tribe headed out on a 10-day Interleague road trip.
In five games before the team's trip, the designated hitter batted .294 (5-for-17) with two homers and seven RBIs.
But Hafner hasn't played the field since June 24, 2007, and Indians manager Manny Acta said there would be no consideration to changing that on the team's tour of National League parks. So, restricted to a mere pinch-hit appearance each game, Hafner went 2-for-5 on the road trip, with a walk and a hit-by-pitch.
Acta kept it no secret that he wasn't a fan of losing his top hitter for nine games.
"It was painful to go nine days without having him in the lineup, especially with the way he's swinging the bat," Acta said. "He's such a big part of our lineup, so we're very happy to be able to put him out there every day."
For Monday's contest against the Yankees, Acta penciled Hafner into the No. 3 hole in the lineup, a spot at which he plans to keep his designated hitter.
"Now that [right fielder Shin-Soo] Choo went down and we're over on [the American League] side, we feel that that gives us our best lineup and most consistent lineup," Acta said.