Hafner expected to play again this season

Hafner expected to play again this season

CLEVELAND -- Designated hitter Travis Hafner, one of a slew of Tribe hitters on the disabled list, will return to a big league diamond before the end of the season, Indians skipper Manny Acta said on Wednesday.

"I think we're going to be able to see him again," Acta said. "We don't have a timetable yet, but that's encouraging news to know that he's going to join our club and be able to play again this year."

Hafner strained a tendon on the bottom of his foot while attempting to stretch a single into a double during the Indians' 8-7 loss to the Tigers on Aug. 21. Hafner may need surgery to repair the tendon, but that has been delayed until the offseason, if needed.

Hafner is currently in a walking boot.

Hafner will certainly be eased into action once he's ready to return. The Indians already have a veteran, left-handed power-hitting DH in Jim Thome, and Acta envisions a platoon at the position working out well.

"Coming from the injury that Hafner's going to be coming back from, obviously he's not going to be able to play every single day," Acta said. "Thome's in the same situation, so they'll share duties."

In the past, Acta has often pinch-run for Hafner when he reaches base late in the game, capitalizing on the speed off his bench. That, however, has left the Indians without their slugger when games advance to extra innings. Now, with both Thome and Hafner at his disposal, Acta doesn't foresee running into that problem.

"It'll give me an advantage now in September," Acta said. "I'll be able to pinch-run for either of them in the seventh now, and then I'll have whichever didn't play to bat in the ninth."