CLEVELAND — Designated hitter Travis Hafner returned to the Indians’ clubhouse Saturday afternoon, which he hopes is a precursor to his return to action.
Hafner, who underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee May 31, said his rehabilitation is on schedule and he will begin jogging and light running in the next several days.
“Everything is going really well for me, and I feel good,” Hafner said prior to Cleveland’s
9-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. “I don’t really know when I’ll be back, but hopefully I can be on the short end of their four-to-six-week timeframe. That’s my goal, at least.”
The 35-year-old slugger has been on the
15-day disabled list since May 24 with a tear in his right meniscus. Hafner still doesn’t know when the injury occurred, only that “my knee got really sore all of a sudden.”
Hafner added that the team’s surgeons only detected normal wear and tear, allowing them to remove the torn cartilage in a minimally invasive procedure. He has attempted to keep his powerful arms in shape through soft toss exercises, but is wearing a protective sleeve on his knee.
“Even though I haven’t been around the guys much lately, I watch all of the games,” said Hafner, whose 194 home runs rank eighth in Tribe history. “Sometimes if it’s a close game, I look for what kind of a pitch the pitcher might be throwing, but mostly I’m just watching to support my teammates.
“It’s not the same as being in the dugout, though, I’ll tell you that. That’s a lot more fun, which is why I can’t wait to get back.”
Hafner, who is making $13 million in the final year of his contract, is batting .242 with six home runs and 23 RBIs in 39 games. His .380 on-base percentage ranks second on the team, while his .439 slugging percentage is third.
Mum’s the word
Indians manager Manny Acta declined to reveal if he would be interested in adding free-agent hitters Manny Ramirez or Vladimir Guerrero to the roster.
Future Hall of Fame candidates Ramirez (Oakland) and Guerrero (Toronto) spent time in the minor leagues this month before asking to be released. Ramirez played for the Tribe from 1993-2000 and is third on the club’s all-time homers list with 236.
“I’m not the guy to answer any of those questions,” Acta said, pointing toward the ceiling. “(Cleveland general manager) Chris Antonetti, he’s upstairs. I’m just the on-field manager.”
Back and forth
Third baseman Jack Hannahan was given the afternoon off, as recommended by the Indians’ medical staff. He went 0-for-3 and left four runners on base Friday in his comeback from a strained left calf and lower-back inflammation.
“Jack looked good and had some good at-bats all night, but for the first week, it was their recommendation that he plays every other day,” Acta said. “We’ll continue to monitor his progress.”
Lonnie Chisenhall, who played DH in the series opener against Pittsburgh, started at third base and went 1-for-4.
Feel his rage
Indians closer Chris Perez has converted his last 21 save opportunities, tying him for the second-longest single-season streak in team history with Doug Jones (May 13-Aug. 6, 1988). Jose Mesa holds the mark with 38 from May 5-Aug. 23, 1995.
Perez is 21-for-22 in save situations on the year — his lone failure occurred on Opening Day against Toronto — and he leads the majors in the category. Opposing teams are batting .200 against him, and he has a 0.90 ERA on the road and a 3.52 ERA at Progressive Field.
Former Indians manager Mike Hargrove joined Jim Rosenhaus in the radio booth. Lead announcer Tom Hamilton was in Omaha, Neb., where his son Nick is playing for Kent State in the NCAA College World Series.
** Both teams took indoor batting practice in order to allow the U.S. Marine Corps to conduct drills on the diamond. Cleveland mascot Slider and the Pirate Parrot each wore a camouflage-colored uniform.
Contact Brian Dulik at email@example.com.