Hafner, who has battled a variety of injury woes over the past five seasons, was activated from the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday, following a bout with a back issue. The veteran designated hitter was in the sixth spot of the lineup to face the Twins.
"We're a better team when Hafner is in the lineup," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "Hafner has been here for a long time, and if he's ready to play, he deserves to play. Plus, he's not going to be taking any at-bats away from the guys that we really need to see."
Cleveland's medical staff has recommended that Hafner play just three times per week down the stretch this season. The DH will not be in the lineup on Thursday.
Acta indicated that Russ Canzler -- called up from Triple-A Columbus this month for a late-season audition -- could garner at-bats at both first base and left field with Hafner back in the fold. As a result, first baseman Casey Kotchman could lose at-bats down the stretch as he heads toward free-agent eligibility this winter.
Canzler was in Wednesday's lineup as the first baseman and seventh hitter.
In 60 games this season, the 35-year-old Hafner has hit .239 with 11 home runs and 32 RBIs, missing all of June with a right knee injury. The DH has hit just .208 over his past 48 games, dating back to April.
This winter, the Indians will need to decide between a $13 million club option for 2013 and a $2.75 million buyout of Hafner's contract. Cleveland is expected to take the less expensive option.