CLEVELAND -- If nothing else, the Indians are nearing the league lead in injured players. As expected, right-handed reliever Rafael Betancourt was placed on the 15-day disabled list Monday with a right groin strain. The Tribe replaced him in the bullpen by recalling left-hander Tony Sipp from Triple-A Columbus. Betancourt is now one of eight Indians players on the DL. Only the Rays, with nine, have more.
The Indians would have had nine, had the CC Sabathia fastball that star catcher Victor Martinez fouled into his left knee struck another inch or so to the right. Martinez very nearly shattered his knee cap -- an injury that would have cost him one or two months of the season. Instead, Martinez was back in the lineup as the designated hitter Monday against the Yankees, just two days after the injury. "I would have never thought that would be possible after watching what happened the other day," manager Eric Wedge said. "It shows you how tough he is." The Indians, as a unit, will have to tough it out after yet another injury setback -- this one to a bullpen that has been struggling to piece things together all season. Betancourt, who is on the DL for the first time since 2006, had become Wedge's go-to reliever, posting a team-high 25 appearances with a 1-1 record, 3.71 ERA, one save and eight holds. Betancourt won't be back anytime soon. "It's probably more than a two-week thing, if I had to guess," Wedge said. Head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff said Betancourt had an MRI examination, but Soloff did not yet have a timetable for his return. This will be Sipp's second stint in the big leagues this season. He made his debut in late April and posted a 4.26 ERA in nine appearances before getting optioned back to Columbus on May 16. With the Clippers, Sipp was 1-0 with a save and a 4.15 ERA in nine games. Left-handed batters were 2-for-16 (.125) off him. Soloff and Wedge updated reporters on all of the Tribe's players on the DL. Here is the rundown: RHP Jake Westbrook (Tommy John surgery): Westbrook, who had the surgery performed last June, is ready to initiate his Minor League rehab assignment on Friday with Double-A Akron. He threw three innings in an extended spring training game in Goodyear, Ariz., on Monday and will throw another three innings Friday at Altoona. Soloff said Westbrook will need about five or six starts before he's ready to rejoin the Tribe, but he's still on target to do so at the end of the month. DH Travis Hafner (right shoulder soreness): Hafner remains on a rehab assignment at Columbus. He was pulled from the lineup Saturday because of a recurrence of the shoulder soreness, but he returned to play Sunday and went 0-for-4. He was scheduled to play again Monday. Hafner's rehab assignment expires Wednesday. The Indians will have to decide at that point whether or not to activate Pronk. If they don't, he cannot go back on a rehab assignment for another five days. "We're working off him," Wedge said. "We're only a day removed from when he couldn't play." Wedge said the Indians' best-case scenario, at this point, is Hafner being able to tolerate playing five or six days a week. More information on Hafner's condition will be known mid-week. RHP Anthony Reyes (right elbow inflammation): Reyes will visit Dr. Lewis Yocum in California on Wednesday to get a second opinion on his elbow. As previously reported, it's expected that Yocum will adhere to the Indians' recommendation that Reyes have ulnar nerve transposition surgery, which would end his 2009 season. If Reyes has the surgery, it would take place Friday, Soloff said. LHP Scott Lewis (left forearm strain): Lewis, who had a setback last month in his recovery from his home opener injury, has progressed to batting-practice sessions in Goodyear. He will start an extended spring game in Goodyear on Tuesday. LHP Aaron Laffey (right oblique strain): Laffey played catch out to 60 feet at Progressive Field on Monday. If all goes to play, he'll begin bullpen activity next week. At some point, the Indians will have to decide whether to rehab Laffey as a starter or a reliever. Wedge said he'll make that call when the time comes, but, as of now, he's expecting to groom Laffey as a starter again. RHP Joe Smith (right rotator cuff strain): Smith threw one scoreless inning in his first rehab appearance for Columbus on Saturday and was scheduled to throw another inning Monday night.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.