SEATTLE -- The Indians have been forced to play without Travis Hafner for a significant portion of the season. In a way, it might be a look at how the Tribe will handle the designated hitter role next season.
Without the injured Hafner in the mix, Indians manager Manny Acta has rotated a handful of players through the DH role. Carlos Santana and Shelley Duncan have garnered the most action as the Tribe's DH this month, but Acta has also used the role to provide some rest for some of his other position players.
Acta believes having versatility in the DH role is the way teams are heading.
"It all depends on your options," Acta said. "Ideally, down the road, that's the way the majority of the teams are moving forward, where they can have a guy that can play a position on the field and they can rotate guys through there and keep them fresh.
"But if you have an ideal guy to be there, to be a force in your lineup, I wouldn't be opposed to that. You just have to weigh your options and go from there."
Hafner, 35, will be eligible for free agency after this season if, as expected, Cleveland declines his $13 million club option for 2013 and opts instead to pay a $2.75 million buyout. The veteran DH has hit .239 with 11 homers and 32 RBIs in 60 games this season, during which he has been hindered by knee and back injuries.
Hafner is currently on the disabled list with a lower back issue.