Sore Hafner sits; Damon slides into DH

Sore Hafner sits; Damon slides into DH

CHICAGO -- If it was easy to simply stick to hitting home runs, Travis Hafner would certainly assume that approach for the Indians. That way, the veteran designated hitter could trot rather than run, and he would not have to worry too much about things like a sore right knee.

"Seriously," Hafner said with a laugh. "That makes a lot of sense."

Hafner was able to joke about his current knee issue on Thursday afternoon, because the ailment is not considered serious. Even so, Cleveland opted to hold Hafner out of the starting lineup for Thursday's game against the White Sox. The Tribe gave Johnny Damon the nod at DH to give Hafner a precautionary day of rest.

Hafner was hit on the side of the right knee by a pitch from Phil Humber in the third inning of the Indians' 6-3 win over Chicago on Wednesday night. In his subsequent at-bats, Hafner was noticeably bothered on the basepaths. One day later, Hafner said his knee was on the mend and he was optimistic about his chances of returning to the lineup soon.

"It's a lot better now," Hafner said. "It hit right where there's no fat or anything. It's all bone -- so that wasn't a great spot. But, it felt better as I was icing it between at-bats and stuff. By the end [of the game], it was doing better."

Damon returned to the lineup after exiting his Indians debut on Wednesday in the sixth inning due to general cramping. Damon went 0-for-3 with a walk as the Tribe's left fielder, but cited dehydration as the reason behind minor tightness in his legs, hands and back.

"I don't think he'll cramp up now that he's DHing," Indians manager Manny Acta said with a smirk.

Having Hafner back in the mix soon would be good news for the Indians. Over his first 20 games of the season, the 34-year-old designated hitter has batted .290 with a .438 on-base percentage, along with three home runs, four doubles, 12 RBIs, 17 walks and 20 hits. On Wednesday, he went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer in the ninth inning.

"It's been a good start," Hafner said. "I feel like overall my approach and swing and everything feels really good. I can go up there every at-bat, no matter who I'm facing, and give myself a chance to do some damage and drive in runs. Overall, I feel like I've been pretty consistent."