Hafner placed on DL with oblique strain
Tribe's designated hitter expected to miss three to four weeks
CLEVELAND -- One ill-fated swing by Travis Hafner in batting practice dealt the Indians' offense a damaging blow.
On Friday, Cleveland placed its ailing designated hitter on the 15-day disabled list due to a strained right oblique. Hafner injured himself during the third round of pregame batting practice on Wednesday in Chicago and is expected to be sidelined for three to four weeks.
"It's about a 6-foot-3, 240-pound blow," Indians manager Manny Acta said prior to Friday's Interleague tilt against the Reds. "It's a big blow. Obviously, he's a big part of our lineup and he's been swinging the bat so good from Day 1.
- 131 wins
- 121 wins
"But, you know what? You have to deal with it. Every team is dealing with some type of injuries."
With Hafner out of the picture for now, the Indians promoted outfielder Ezequiel Carrera from Triple-A Columbus to hopefully give their bench a boost. The Indians also optioned infielder Luis Valbuena to Columbus in order to recall reliever Frank Herrmann from Triple-A.
Hafner's injury was initially described as "rib soreness" by Acta, but an MRI on Friday revealed "some issues with his oblique," according to the manager. Hafner joins center fielder Grady Sizemore (right knee) on the 15-day DL, robbing the Indians of two of their most potent bats.
"It's kind of tough to substitute those two guys," Acta said, "especially with the way they were swinging the bat. We mention here always how much one guy changes the whole lineup, because of how you can stretch your lineup. Two makes a big difference."
Through 32 games for the Indians entering Friday, the 33-year-old Hafner has hit .345, which was the third-best mark in the American League. Hafner also had eight doubles, five homers and 22 RBIs. Sizemore, who is eligible for activation from the DL on May 27, has hit .282 with six homers and 11 RBIs through 18 games.
Acta said he plans on rotating different players in and out of the designated hitter slot during Hafner's absence. For Friday's game against Cincinnati, Shelley Duncan got the nod as the DH. Players such as Travis Buck, Carlos Santana and Matt LaPorta could also see time in that role.
Given the fact that the Indians currently reside in first place in the American League Central, Acta said that the loss of Hafner and Sizemore is a little easier to absorb for the ballclub.
"What makes it easier for us is at least we have a little cushion," Acta said. "We have played well enough for the last month and a half that it's easier to take that blow than if we would've been chasing three or four teams."
White exits game after injuring middle finger
CLEVELAND -- Alex White exited Friday's 5-4 win over the Reds after pitching only three innings for the Indians. The young right-hander injured his right middle finger in his final frame.
White will undergo an MRI on Saturday to determine the extent of the injury.
"I had some strong discomfort in the middle finger on my throwing hand," White said after the game. "I thought it was something to be concerned about. We'll know a lot more tomorrow."
After unleashing an 86-mph slider to Cincinnati's Ryan Hanigan, White recoiled in obvious pain, shaking his right arm. Cleveland manager Manny Acta and head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff quickly headed to the mound, where White's pitching hand was examined.
White fired off a few warmup tosses before being allowed to remain in the game. From there on out, however, it was clear that something was not right with the 22-year-old prospect.
White threw 36 more pitches before being removed from the game. Within that stretch, he fired off 35 fastballs and only one more slider. White finished Hanigan off with a strikeout but issued two walks and hit Brandon Phillips with a pitch.
"He's a great competitor," Acta said of White. "But I don't think it was fair for him to be out there just competing with his fastball alone. It was obvious that he probably didn't want to throw the other pitches."
With one out and the bases loaded, Joey Votto chopped a pitch from White to Indians first baseman Matt LaPorta for what could have been an inning-ending double play. Instead, LaPorta airmailed the baseball into left field, allowing two runs to score to hand the Reds an early 2-0 lead.
White, who is 1-0 with a 3.60 ERA in three outings for the Tribe, was charged with two runs (one earned) on one hit in the abbreviated outing against Cincinnati. He struck out three and walked three, ending with 65 pitches, including 39 strikes.
White was Cleveland's first-round selection in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft.
Talbot finishes rehab assignment
CLEVELAND -- Mitch Talbot has completed his Minor League rehab assignment and is itching to rejoin the Indians' pitching staff. That step is expected to take place in the near future.
"We're going to make a decision in a couple of days," Indians manager Manny Acta said on Friday.
Talbot, who has been on the 15-day disabled list with a right elbow issue since April 17, made his final rehab start for Triple-A Columbus on Thursday. The right-hander allowed one run on four hits over four innings before the game was called due to rain. Talbot struck out five and walked one.
"It went well," Talbot said. "I did walk a kid, which I wasn't too happy about. But I had a few punchouts and most of all I felt good. I feel ready to go."
Following his appearance, Talbot added two simulated innings in the bullpen, ending his outing at six innings and roughly 90 pitches.
When Talbot -- 1-0 with a 1.46 ERA in two starts for the Tribe prior to going on the DL -- is ready to return, the most vulnerable Indians starter is pitching prospect Alex White. Right-hander Carlos Carrasco also has a Minor League option. Talbot does not have options, so he will be back on Cleveland's staff in some capacity.
"I haven't heard anything from the front office at all," Talbot said. "It's the end of my rehab, so something's got to happen."
One option the Indians might consider is shifting Talbot to the bullpen. Acta said on Wednesday that the Tribe had not discussed such a move, and on Friday the manager was quick to note the success Talbot (a 10-game winner for last season's 93-loss team) has had in the past.
"We haven't made that decision yet," Acta said. "At the end of the day, we're going to do what's going to be best for the team and for whatever player is involved. Mitch Talbot pitched well for us before he went down, and he won double digits for us last year, so I think he deserves to start.
"On the other hand, those other two kids have thrown the ball exceptionally well for us at some points. Good decisions to make."
Carrera makes immediate impact in debut
CLEVELAND -- After the impressive showing by Ezequiel Carrera during Spring Training, the Indians were confident that the young outfielder could be an option for the big league club at some point this season.
He surprised everybody, though, when he pinch-hit with two outs in the eighth inning of the Indians' 5-4 win on Friday -- in his Major League debut -- with Shin-Soo Choo on third base. Carrera pulled a drag bunt down the first-base line, then he dodged the tag of Reds first baseman Joey Votto as Choo scored the go-ahead run.
"In that situation," Carrera said, "in the last inning with two outs, I just looked a little bit at the position of the first baseman and the third baseman. It was good. I can do that.
"I can bunt with a man on third with no outs, one out, two outs."
Lacking the bats of Travis Hafner (right oblique) and Grady Sizemore (right knee) -- both are on the 15-day disabled list -- the Indians selected Carrera's contract from Triple-A Columbus earlier in the day to add some depth off the bench. Carrera put himself on the radar in Spring Training but made sure he stayed there in the weeks after.
"It didn't stop," Acta said prior to Friday's game. "He played well in Triple-A, too. I had a conversation with [Columbus manager] Mike Sarbaugh, and he was impressed with the way he played over there in Triple-A. He continues to make progress with his baserunning and all that.
"Hey, sometimes those guys come up to the big leagues, they're unknown, and they can make an impact and pick up a couple of games for you."
During the spring, the 23-year-old Carrera -- acquired last year in the June 27 trade that sent Russell Branyan to the Mariners -- hit .286 with a .434 on-base percentage over 22 Cactus League contests. At Triple-A, the center fielder hit .317 with two homers, five doubles, 15 stolen bases, 17 RBIs and 33 runs in 37 games.
Acta said Carrera would likely be used exclusively in center field.
"That's where he's played," Acta said. "I'm anticipating that that's where he's going to play here, too. Our best outfield would probably be him in center and Michael [Brantley] in left."
Cabrera rejoins Tribe as an American citizen
CLEVELAND -- Orlando Cabrera's locker at Progressive Field took on a patriotic look on Friday afternoon. Two American flags hung above the stall, and red, white and blue ribbons were draped all around.
"This was cool," Cabrera said of the display.
Cabrera was back with the Indians for their 5-4 win on Friday, one day after officially becoming a citizen of the United States. The ceremony took place near the 36-year-old infielder's home in South Carolina.
Asked about becoming a citizen, Cabrera could not hold back his smile.
"It was a really, really, really special moment for me," said Cabrera, who was born in Colombia. "It's not about trying to gain anything other than me just being proud of being a part of this country."
Indians manager Manny Acta, who became a U.S. citizen in 1999, was thrilled for the veteran second baseman.
"He walked in today with his American flag in his hand," Acta said. "I can relate to that, because I did it myself. He was so excited. He's been excited since the day he got his appointment date. This is what it's all about. God bless America.
"We appreciate everything we've done here in this country and the security and the freedom that comes with it. He's very happy and excited and I'm happy for him."
Left-hander, not toe, sidelines Buck against Reds
CLEVELAND -- Travis Buck was not in the starting lineup for the Indians during their 5-4 win over the Reds on Friday, but the outfielder was available for the Tribe one day after sitting out with an injured left big toe.
Buck said the issue, which has provided some persistent trouble for the past week or so, was much improved on Friday. The outfielder noted that Indians head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff found a way to tape the injured toe in a manner that helped Buck play through the minor discomfort.
"We finally found a tape job that has really helped," Buck said. "I'm fine to play. I probably could've played [on Thursday], but we just wanted to rest it for a day."
Indians manager Manny Acta noted that the left-handed-hitting Buck was out of the lineup because the Reds had lefty Travis Wood on the hill.
"He's feeling better," Acta said of Buck. "I think all of you guys are aware that the situation here is that he was going to be platooning pretty much, mixing and matching. They've got a lefty on the mound."
Indians center fielder Grady Sizemore, who is on the 15-day disabled list with a right knee injury, took part in batting practice on Friday. It marked his first BP session with the Indians since injuring his knee on May 10. Sizemore is eligible for activation on May 27.
The Indians played Thursday's game in Chicago with a six-man bullpen. Cleveland went back to the typical seven-man alignment on Friday after recalling righty Frank Herrmann from Triple-A Columbus. Herrmann, who allowed an earned run in two innings during the Indians' 5-4 win on Friday, has a 7.11 ERA in five appearances for the Tribe this season and a 5.91 ERA in nine games for Columbus.
Minor League left-hander Nick Hagadone was promoted to Triple-A Columbus on Friday. Through 12 games with Double-A Akron, Hagadone posted a 1.59 ERA with 24 strikeouts and seven walks in 22 2/3 innings. Cleveland acquired the lefty in the July 31, 2009, trade that sent catcher Victor Martinez to the Red Sox.
The Indians announced that Saturday's Interleague game against the Reds is sold out. It marks the first non-Opening Day sellout for Cleveland since May 24, 2008, when the Indians faced the Rangers. Plenty of seats are still available for Sunday's game and the upcoming three-game set against the Red Sox.
The Indians boast the best winning percentage (.643) in the Majors and were tied with the Phillies for the most wins (27) in baseball. Cleveland (six games ahead of the second-place Tigers in the American League Central) was the only division leader with a lead of more than 1 1/2 games.