DETROIT -- Travis Hafner rejoined the Indians for Saturday's game against the Tigers, but the veteran designated hitter was not back in the lineup. Tightness in his back kept Hafner on Cleveland's bench for his first day off baseball's paternity list.
"I've had a stiff back for the past few days," Hafner said. "So I'll go through my activities. I'll go hit in the cage and make sure it's fine."
Those comments came shortly before batting practice, when it was determined that Hafner's back issue was still problematic to keep him out of the fold for at least one more game. Manager Manny Acta instead gave the nod to Jose Lopez as the DH and sixth hitter in the Tribe's lineup.
Cleveland activated Hafner prior to Saturday's game and optioned utility man Vinny Rottino to Triple-A Columbus.
Acta noted that Hafner's injury flared up during Tuesday's loss in Kansas City. Hafner went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts in that game before being removed for a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning. On Wednesday, Hafner was placed on the paternity list so he could be with his wife, Amy, for the birth of their second son.
"That was the reason why he came out of the game that day," Acta explained. "It had nothing to do with the score. His back stiffened up. It kind of worked perfect for us with the paternity list thing."
For the season, the 35-year-old Hafner is hitting .230 with 10 home runs and 20 RBIs in 59 games for the Indians. Dating back to April 24, when his season average peaked at .357, Hafner has hit just .195 (30-for-154) with a .302 on-base percentage and a .396 slugging percentage for Cleveland.
On a brighter note, Hafner said the birth of his son went well.
"Everything was great," he said with a proud smile. "So now I'll have two little ones running around."
The Hafners named their newly-arrived boy Trip John Hafner. Asked where the name "Trip" came from, the designated hitter cracked a grin.
"To commemorate the two triples I have this year," he quipped. "I had you going there for a second."