DETROIT -- Designated hitter Travis Hafner is one step closer to rejoining the Tribe, as he began a rehab stint with the Double-A Akron Aeros on Tuesday.
Hafner, sidelined with a right oblique injury since May 18, has been taking batting practice with the Indians recently.
Hafner said on Monday that he would probably play three or four games in Akron.
In 32 games this season, Hafner was hitting .345 with a .549 slugging percentage. Getting him back would be a plus no matter what, but with the offense struggling over the past few weeks, Hafner's return could be just what the doctor ordered.
"It'll be good to get him back in the lineup," Jack Hannahan said. "He's a big part of this team. He's a guy that's going to drive runs in, and that's what we've been needing."
Without Hafner, the Indians have been able to put Grady Sizemore at DH, keeping his banged-up legs fresh. But there is no doubt that manager Manny Acta is ready to get Hafner back in at DH full-time.
"Once we get Hafner back, things are going to change again," Acta said.
Acta keeping Sizemore fresh as DH
DETROIT -- It may have only resulted in one run scored, but it resulted in a win, and so manager Manny Acta went with a similar lineup on Tuesday against the Tigers.
On Monday, Acta moved Grady Sizemore to the leadoff spot in front of Carlos Santana, Michael Brantley, Asdrubal Cabrera and Shin-Soo Choo, in that order. Sizemore has been a leadoff hitter for most of his career, but before Monday he hadn't hit in that spot since May 10 -- when we went 1-for-4.
Sizemore missed much of last season after undergoing microfracture surgery on his left knee and missed time early this season with an injury to the other knee. The fact that designated hitter Travis Hafner is on the disabled list means that Acta can use Sizemore in that role to keep his legs fresh.
"We knew that he was going to have to battle through all of this," Acta said. "He is coming back from microfracture surgery and coming back from the DL. Still, even if he didn't go to the DL, he was going to be monitored with the amount of games a week that he was going to be playing.
"Now, because of Hafner being on the DL, we have the luxury to DH him a little bit more, keeping him off his legs in the outfield. He's been fine so far. Obviously, when he started the season, he was swinging the bat better, but it comes and goes, just like everybody else."
Sizemore is hitting .254 with seven home runs in 33 games.
Asdrubal cherishes friendship with Peralta
DETROIT -- Asdrubal Cabrera and Detroit's Jhonny Peralta have quite a history. The two composed the Indians' middle infield for more than two seasons, and they've become even more intertwined despite being on separate teams this year.
Cabrera took over at shortstop and Peralta moved to second base for the Indians in 2009 before Peralta was traded to the Tigers late last season.
"He's a good player. We are great friends," said Cabrera, who said he learned a lot from Peralta.
Cabrera has been having an All-Star season, leading American League shortstops in average, home runs, RBIs and slugging percentage, and Peralta is second in all those categories.
Unfortunately, only one of them may make the All-Star team. Cabrera is second to Derek Jeter in fan voting for starters, with Peralta in fifth.
Knapp has surgery on right shoulder
DETROIT -- Jason Knapp underwent surgery on his right shoulder in New York on Tuesday. The goal is to have him return to competitive pitching by next Spring Training.
"Jason has approached his work the past year with great determination and persistence," Ross Atkins, vice president of player development, said in a release. "This consistent approach will only enhance his rehabilitation moving forward."
Chris Vannini is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.