Hafner likely to return from DL on Wednesday

Hafner likely to return from DL on Wednesday

Hafner likely to return from DL on Wednesday
CLEVELAND -- The Indians experienced a dropoff in the quality of their plate appearances throughout the month of June. As it happened, designated hitter Travis Hafner was sidelined for the entire month due to his right knee injury.

It hardly seems like a coincidence.

"I would say that not having him obviously had an effect," Indians manager Manny Acta said.

Well, Hafner is on the verge of rejoining Cleveland's lineup.

Sitting at his locker at Progressive Field on Tuesday afternoon, Hafner said he was feeling much improved, and his expectation was that he would be activated from the 15-day disabled list for Wednesday's game against the Angels. Following a Minor League rehab assignment, Cleveland opted to give the DH one more day to rest.

"It's a recovery day for him today," Acta said prior to Tuesday's game. "There's a very good chance that he'll be activated tomorrow if he's OK."

In three games with Triple-A Columbus, Hafner went 1-for-10, including an 0-for-4 showing on Monday in Toledo. The designated hitter said his focus now is less on the knee and more on getting into a good rhythm at the plate.

"It's just a matter of trying to get your timing," he said. "[The knee] is doing good. Overall, it's good. There's a little bit of soreness off and on maybe running, but that's pretty normal. Overall it's doing really well."

That is a welcome development for the Indians, who have been inconsistent offensively for much of the season, but especially over the past few weeks without Hafner. The DH was one of the team's hottest hitters in April, posting a .357 average with a 1.081 OPS in his first 12 games of the season.

In his 27 games prior to being shelved with the knee injury, however, Hafner hit .189 with a .693 OPS. He then had a right medial meniscectomy performed by Dr. Rick Parker and Dr. Mark Schickendantz at the Cleveland Clinic on May 31.

Through 39 games this season, Hafner is hitting .242 with six home runs, six doubles and 23 RBIs. Acta said Cleveland -- a team trying to stay in the thick of things in the American League Central -- needs Hafner performing at a high level.

"In order for us to compete offensively," Acta said, "we need every single one of these guys healthy and playing up to their capabilities. We need to have Travis and we need to have [Carlos] Santana playing up to their capabilities or our lineup is just not going to be able to sustain any type of competitiveness for the long run."