Travis Hafner has been listed as day to day since he took a foul ball off his knee last Wednesday in Detroit. He’d been doing some running drills this week and Acta even mentioned that he’d be available off the bench as a pinch hitter for last night’s semi-blowout against the Royals. This morning, the Indians announced that they placed him on the 15-day DL and replaced his spot with a pitcher, Scott Barnes.
I’m wondering if this is less a “Hafner has a serious issue” and more of a “we’re going to take advantage of the good timing issue.” The starting pitching staff has been knocked around lately and the bullpen has pitched a lot of innings. The Indians needed to get another pitcher to Cleveland to help alleviate the strain. The Tribe is also about to enter interleague play. Here is their list of upcoming interleague away series:
June 8-10 in St. Louis
June 12-14 in Cincinnati
June 22-24 in Houston
There’s really no place for Hafner in away series in National League parks, outside of a pinch hitting role. This trip to the DL gives his knee more of a chance to heal, and allows the Indians to put someone else in his spot in the roster, since they weren’t really going to use him much on the road in interleague play. Perhaps it’s just wishful thinking, but this makes me hope that his injury is not that serious, and the Indians are just using the good timing as an opportunity to give Hafner some rest and recovery time.
When he was injured, Hafner was trying to come out of a recent slump – he was hitting .242/.380/.439 with 6 home runs when he fouled the ball off his knee. At one point earlier this season, he was hitting over .300. This is the eighth time in his career that Hafner has been placed on the DL. I predicted before the season that Hafner (and Sizemore) would probably end up on the DL; I figured both by the end of May. Sizemore didn’t make it out of spring training, and Hafner almost made it out of May before the bad luck with the foul ball.
Speaking of Sizemore – Anthony Castrovince talked to him recently and it doesn’t sound as if there’s any timetable for his return. (Also, note the sad comment about seeing Michael Brantley’s great catch this weekend in Chicago).
A bit on Scott Barnes – the 24-year-old LHP was originally drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the 8th round of the 2008 draft and came to the Indians in the Ryan Garko trade in 2009. With Columbus this season, Barnes is 0-2 with a 3.81 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, and 30 strikeouts in 28.1 innings pitched. While this may not be quite as good as Carlos Santana for Casey Blake, I think this was still a pretty excellent trade. (If you lost track of Garko, he played in Korea for a while, then came back to the U.S. and played in an independent league. He was recently signed by the Tampa Bay Rays, and is at their Double-A affiliate in Alabama, the Montgomery Biscuits.)
EDIT: I heard an addendum to the story – Hafner will have surgery on the knee tomorrow and will miss the next 4-6 weeks.