CLEVELAND -- Shin-Soo Choo had been "feeling better every day" and felt healthy enough to start on Saturday. After 4 1/2 innings of play, however, the right fielder was replaced by Ezequiel Carrera.

"It was a battle to get him out of the game," manager Manny Acta said. "He's a fighter. He wanted to keep playing, but that's not smart to keep him out there and maybe make it worse.

"He's going to be shut down for a few days. He's not going to be able to swing the bat for a few days."

Choo had an MRI on Saturday, which revealed a strained muscle in his left side. He was kept out of the starting lineup Wednesday and Friday with what the team diagnosed "lower left trunk soreness." He entered Friday's contest in the eighth inning as a defensive replacement.

Choo said he felt no ill effects after taking batting practice Friday and Saturday. The 29-year-old first felt pain during an eighth-inning at-bat in the second game of Tuesday's doubleheader.

He said he only felt pain when he didn't swing the bat. When he took a full cut, he felt fine. But when he started his momentum forward and then stopped to take a pitch, he noticed the pain.

"Swinging is no problem," Choo said. "But even in soft toss, if I take a pitch, I feel it."

Tribe taking safe approach with Tomlin

CLEVELAND -- The Indians are in no hurry to declare a timetable for Josh Tomlin's recovery, though the pitcher already has one in mind.

Tomlin is shut down from baseball activities for two weeks since being placed on the 15-day disabled list on Friday with a ligament sprain in his right elbow.

The right-hander first felt pain in his last outing, the first of his 37-start career that didn't go at least five innings. Tomlin departed after 4 2/3 frames, having surrendered six runs and 11 hits.

"I felt it more last start than anything else," Tomlin said. "I could feel it during that whole game. ... It's something that I knew was going to be an issue if I kept trying to throw through it and it might get worse."

Indians head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff said Tomlin would undergo an examination in two weeks before the club determined his recovery process. Depending on how he feels and where the team sits in the standings at that point, Tomlin could be shut down for the season.

Tomlin has logged 165 1/3 innings this season, after tossing a combined 180 1/3 between Cleveland and Triple-A Columbus last year. In 26 starts this season, Tomlin is 12-7 with a 4.25 ERA.

"I don't feel like the workload has been too much, by any means," Tomlin said.

Tomlin said this is his first stint on the DL at any stop in his professional career, dating to 2006.

"It's just a little bump in the road," Tomlin said. "It's unfortunate at this point in the season."

Hannahan enjoying hot streak at the plate

CLEVELAND -- The Indians haven't kept it a secret that they added Jack Hannahan in the offseason for his defensive prowess at third base.

They're not complaining about his recent surge at the plate, though.

Following a three-month slump in which he hit .184 in May, .180 in June and .207 in July, Hannahan has heated up during the dog days of August, batting .417 (15-for-36) this month following Saturday's 8-7 win against the Royals

In Saturday's contest, Hannahan had a pair of hits -- including a triple -- and three RBIs.

"He's had a better approach as of late," manager Manny Acta said. "He's staying up the middle, the other way. We saw that earlier in the year."

Hannahan surprised the Indians with his bat in April, when he hit .273. He entered this season with a career mark of .224 in four seasons with Detroit, Oakland and Seattle.

Hannahan's playing time decreased when the club called up top prospect Lonnie Chisenhall, who received most of the action at third base upon his arrival. Chisenhall has hit just .240, however, and with Acta more comfortable with Hannahan's glove, the veteran has regained most of the playing time at the hot corner, which has translated into better numbers at the plate for the 31-year-old.

"I'm getting to play more," Hannahan said. "Anytime you get consistent at-bats, there's a comfort level."

Hannahan hit the game-tying RBI single in the seventh inning of Friday's 2-1 win against the Royals, impressing the newest addition to the roster.

"I was impressed by his at-bats all night," said Jim Thome, acquired on Thursday from the Twins. "He had some great hits. He really swung the bat well."

Smoke signals

• The Indians made a team-wide fashion statement for Friday's game, sporting their high socks to honor the homecoming of newly acquired Jim Thome, who donned the look during his 12-year stint with the club at the start of his career. Some players kept the look for Saturday's game, wary of breaking superstition after Friday's 2-1 win against the Royals.

• Jim Thome turned 41 on Saturday and celebrated by blasting his first homer in an Indians uniform since 2002 -- a solo shot in Cleveland's 8-7 win. In 12 career games on his birthday, the slugger is batting .395 (17-for-43) with three home runs and nine RBIs.