CLEVELAND — The long-awaited return of designated hitter Travis Hafner is expected to come today.
There were reports that Hafner would be activated Tuesday, but he remained on the disabled list after going 0-for-4 in his third rehab game for Triple-A Columbus on Monday.
“It’s a recovery day for him,” manager Manny Acta said of Hafner, who has been sidelined since May 24 after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. “There’s a very good chance that he’ll be activated (today) if he’s OK.”
Hafner went 1-for-10 during his rehab assignment in Columbus, but said the knee has held up well.
“It’s just a matter of trying to get your timing,” said Hafner, who is hitting .242 with six home runs and 23 RBIs in 39 games. “(The knee) is doing good. There’s a little bit of soreness off and on maybe running, but that’s pretty normal. Overall, it’s doing really well.”
The Indians were without Hafner for all of June, and catcher Carlos Santana also missed time. Not surprisingly, Cleveland’s offense suffered.
“In order for us to compete offensively, we need every single one of these guys healthy and playing up to their capabilities,” Acta said. “We need to have Travis and we need to have Santana playing up to their capabilities or our lineup is just not going to be able to sustain any type of competitiveness for the long run.”
The Indians hit the international market with gusto Tuesday. They signed five players, including 16-year-old outfielder and Dominican Republic native Hector Caro, who received a $1.1 million signing bonus.
Baseball America reported the Caro signing, as well as the deals with Venezuelan catcher Yolber Marquino ($475,000), Dominican shortstop Grofy Cruz ($400,000) and Dominican catcher Francisco Mejia ($350,000). MLB.com reported the Indians had agreed to terms with Japanese right-hander Naoki Hashimoto ($250,000).
Under MLB’s last collective bargaining agreement, each team is allotted $2.9 million per season to spend on international players.
Double-A Akron outfielder Thomas Neal was named the Indians’ minor league player of the week (June 25-July 1). Neal, acquired in a trade with San Francisco for infielder Orlando Cabrera last year, hit .500 (14-for-28) with six doubles, three homers and 10 RBIs over the span.
A 37th-round draft pick of the Giants in 2005, Neal was hitting .307 with six homers and 30 RBIs in 64 games through Monday.
• Outfielder Tyler Naquin, the 15th overall pick this year, entered Tuesday batting .387 (12-for-31) with three doubles and two RBIs in his first eight games for Class A Mahoning Valley.
The Indians have been shut out just twice — once Monday — which was the third-fewest times in the majors entering Tuesday. Only Detroit has not been blanked.
• Santana entered Tuesday with the second-highest percentage throwing out runners in the majors. Santana had cut down 15 of 41 runners attempting to steal (36.6 percent), second to Arizona’s Miguel Montero (41 percent, 16-of-39).
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