CHICAGO -- The locker reserved for Travis Hafner inside the visitors' clubhouse at U.S. Cellular Field sat empty on Friday afternoon and it is unlikely that any of the Indians designated hitter's jerseys will be hung in the stall this weekend.
While the Tribe prepared for its three-game road series against the White Sox, Hafner remained in Cleveland to rehab a right knee injury. An MRI exam performed on Thursday revealed irritation of the meniscus and the DH received an anti-inflammatory shot to ease the discomfort.
"He's going to rest it and rehab it over the next two or three days," Indians head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff said. "We're hoping to have him available later on this weekend, but most likely early next week. We're hopeful that the medication and the rest will be sufficient for resolution of symptoms."
Soloff said he spoke with Hafner on Friday morning, noting that the 34-year-old indicated that he was feeling better. As things currently stand, Hafner has not been placed on the disabled list and Cleveland is optimistic about his chances of avoiding surgery.
Indians manager Manny Acta gave Shelley Duncan the nod as the Tribe's DH for Friday's game against Chicago and said outfielder Johnny Damon, infielder Jose Lopez and catcher Carlos Santana could also fill in at that position. Acta went on to express how important Hafner is for the Indians' lineup.
"He's a presence," Acta said. "That's what he does for us. He changes the way they pitch to guys and he's a threat every time he's up. That's why he's so important to us. Travis brings the other dimension that a lot of guys don't have. He and Santana have it. Even when they're not hitting, they're walking, so they're on base."
Through 39 games this season, Hafner has hit .242 with six home runs, six doubles, 23 RBIs and a .380 on-base percentage.
Soloff said that Hafner complained of stiffness in his right knee on Wednesday morning, but the DH still played in a 4-2 win over the Tigers.
In his first at-bat, Hafner fouled a pitch off his right shin and he was noticeably bothered while running the bases later in the game. The DH went 1-for-3 with a home run and a walk in the win, but the knee pain worsened overnight Wednesday and into Thursday morning.