DETROIT -- Head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff stated the obvious about Travis Hafner on Wednesday. "The rehab pace has slowed a little bit with Haf," Soloff said.
That was obvious, because Hafner, working his way back from right shoulder weakness and soreness, wasn't in the lineup for Triple-A Buffalo on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. Pronk was four games into his Buffalo stint when he temporarily pulled the plug on his own rehab because the shoulder soreness was bothering him. "His thought," Soloff said, "was that he could use more time developing his endurance or foundation by working in the cage and progressing through batting practice, as opposed to game situations." The goal is for Hafner to return to designated hitter duties for the Bisons on Thursday. Because of this latest development, which the Tribe is stopping short of labeling a "setback," Hafner, who has been on the disabled list since May 30, won't be rejoining the club before rosters are expanded Monday. Soloff said the soreness is the result of Hafner adding game activity to his rehab schedule. Whereas he used to take cuts in the cage, then call it a day, Pronk is now doing pregame work, sitting for two hours, stepping up to the plate for an in-game at-bat, then sitting again between at-bats. "It's definitely a progression for him," Soloff said. "We're taking his lead on what he feels and what he needs at this point to get back to baseball activities." The Indians recognize the importance of having Hafner playing in games before the end of this season. Otherwise, he'll go into 2009 as an even bigger question mark than he already is. "He's got to play somewhere," Soloff said. "There's no doubt about that." Hafner is far from the only player in the Indians organization dealing with a medical issue. Here is a rundown on the rest: Victor Martinez: It's still possible Martinez will rejoin the team before Sept. 1, as he has tolerated his rehabilitation from right elbow surgery quite well. Martinez played nine innings at catcher for Buffalo on Tuesday night and went 2-for-4. He was expected to play nine innings at DH on Wednesday. "He has no issues from a hitting or throwing standpoint," Soloff said. Josh Barfield: Like Martinez, Barfield (left middle finger surgery) is physically ready to play for the Indians, but the team will keep him at Buffalo through the end of the Bisons' season on Sept. 2 so that he can get regular at-bats. Adam Miller: Miller, the Indians' top pitching prospect, has missed most of the season after right middle finger surgery in May. He is currently in the midst of a return-to-throw program in Winter Haven, Fla., and will be at Progressive Field for a checkup next week. Miller is expected to work out with the Double-A Akron club and throw a simulated session on Sept. 5. He won't be activated to play with the Aeros, but he will likely participate in the fall instructional league in Goodyear, Ariz., and the Indians hope he'll be able to pitch winter ball, as well. Matt LaPorta: The key acquisition in the CC Sabathia trade was beaned in the head during Olympic play and suffered a mild concussion. The Indians had him undergo an exam by a neurologist at the Cleveland Clinic on Wednesday to ensure he is ready to resume game action with Akron. LaPorta checked out fine, Soloff said. He will participate in pregame activities with the Aeros on Thursday and likely resume play on Friday.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.