CLEVELAND -- After more than a month on the disabled list, Indians designated hitter Travis Hafner was activated for Wednesday afternoon's game against the Angels. Hafner had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee May 31, and he hasn't played since May 23. He started and batted fourth on Wednesday.
Indians manager Manny Acta said Hafner won't be able to play every day yet, but he won't have the limitation of playing only every other day, either.
"I'm just very excited to be back," Hafner said. "This is kind of what you're wired to do. ... There's still a little soreness here or there running, but I'll just kind of work through it, and it'll get better and better."
To make room for Hafner's return, Cleveland placed outfielder Shelley Duncan on the paternity list. Duncan's wife, Elyse, is in the hospital and is ready to go into labor with the couple's twin boys at any time. Duncan is expected to miss one to three games, giving the Indians a few extra days to decide on another roster move.
"It gives us an opportunity, for a day or two, to think through things," Acta said. "We all know how things can change in the game, and how quick things can happen."
Hafner made a three-game rehab assignment with Triple-A Columbus over the weekend, going 1-for-10 with an RBI. He entered Wednesday's game hitting .242 with six home runs and 23 RBIs in 39 games this season. His return gives the Indians another bat in the middle of the lineup, and it should help take pressure off catcher Carlos Santana.
"He's a middle-of-the-order bat that we've relied a lot on," Acta said. "Even if he isn't firing on all cylinders coming off the DL, he's a guy that carries guys out of the strike zone and walks and creates traffic. Hopefully he can pick us up now."
While the team was happy to get Hafner back, it was an unfortunate time for the Indians to lose Duncan. The left fielder is hitting .391 (9-for-23) with three home runs and seven RBIs over the last seven games. Duncan crushed a solo home run off Angels starter Dan Haren on Tuesday night, giving him three home runs in the last four games.
"He's in a groove right now," Acta said. "It's always nice to have that bat off the bench, especially when he's going well."