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06/17/10 7:10 PM ET

Hafner to play pinch-hitter's role on road

CLEVELAND -- Don't expect Travis Hafner to don a glove during the Indians' three-city, nine-game Interleague road trip that begins Friday.

Manager Manny Acta ruled out the prospect of Hafner, who has not seen the field in a game since 2007, playing first base to keep his hot bat in the Tribe's lineup.

Hafner entered Thursday batting .375 (9-for-24) with two doubles, four home runs and eight RBIs over his past eight games. Pronk has posted a 1.442 OPS since June 8.

"It wouldn't be fair to him," Acta said. "What are we going to do? Hit him one million grounders today so he'll be ready tomorrow? He doesn't get defensive work."

Right shoulder woes have plagued Hafner in recent seasons, sapping him of the power that once made him one of the most feared sluggers in the American League.

Acta plans to award Hafner one at-bat per game on the upcoming trek, which includes stops in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Cincinnati.

"We don't want him to go a long time without seeing pitches," Acta said.

Duncan confident in left, despite miscues

CLEVELAND -- Shelley Duncan doesn't claim to be a Gold Glove-caliber outfielder.

He also doesn't believe the two third-inning fly balls that eluded him in left field Wednesday night were exactly routine plays.

In the Mets' five-run third, which buoyed them to an 8-4 win against the Indians at Progressive Field, David Wright and Ike Davis stroked consecutive run-scoring doubles over the head of Duncan, who made his third start of the season in left.

"Even on defense, sometimes you don't feel that rhythm because you're not out there every day," Duncan said. "You just try to grind it out, be as natural as you can be, and do everything you can do.

"I expect more of myself. I wish I could have stabbed every one of those balls for [starter] Mitch [Talbot]. I didn't, but I didn't hang my head, either. I just moved on."

Duncan dove into foul territory to snare Rod Barajas' fly ball for the final out of the third. He finished 2-for-4 at the plate, including his second two-run home run in as many games.

With Trevor Crowe out of the lineup due to right knee soreness, manager Manny Acta started regular left fielder Austin Kearns in center. That created an opportunity for Duncan, who struggled to judge the balls hit by Wright and Davis.

"It was just a really tough inning," Duncan said. "None of those balls were by any means easy for me. My reaction off the bat was that they were hit harder than they were. The wind kind of knocked them down a little bit, too. Davis' ball had some funky spin on it, plus it was knocked down. Wright hit his pretty good, with some topspin, and I thought it was going to carry further than it did. I didn't think I'd get to that one, regardless. I just tried to not overplay it and it short-hopped the wall."

Duncan dismissed the possibility of a negative carryover into Thursday's series finale, which he also started in left.

"I've learned to just brush that stuff off. They were just weird plays," Duncan said. "In my mind, I knew what was going on and it wasn't anything drastic. But from another person's point of view, they could see it being more than it was. It's easy for me to put it behind me. When it happened, it was already in the past."

Crowe gets extra day to rest sore knee

CLEVELAND -- Indians center fielder Trevor Crowe did not start for the second straight game Thursday night, still dealing with right knee soreness.

Crowe fouled a pitch off his knee in the second inning of Saturday's contest against the Nationals. He played Sunday and Tuesday, going a combined 3-for-9 with two doubles and two RBIs, but manager Manny Acta opted to sit Crowe for the final two games of the series with the Mets.

"He's available, but we want to give him one extra day," Acta said. "He banged that knee pretty good. I anticipate him being ready [Friday]."

If Crowe had his way, he would have been back atop Acta's starting lineup Thursday.

"It's tolerable. You're never going to be 100 percent healthy, anyway," said Crowe, who is batting .250 with one home run and 16 RBIs in 30 games this season. "I'd like to be out there, but it's just a precaution. They're doing this to help me down the road."

Worth noting

The Indians announced Thursday the signing of 12th-round Draft pick Tyler Cannon, a shortstop from the University of Virginia. Cleveland also agreed to terms with right-handed pitcher Casey Gaynor out of Rutgers University. The Tribe has signed 10 of its 50 selections in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, along with five non-drafted free agents. ... Cleveland's player development system ranks second among Major League Baseball organizations with a 160-119 record, trailing only San Francisco (168-113). Class A Lake County (41-24) and Triple-A Columbus (40-27) lead their respective divisions. ... Columbus right-hander Carlos Carrasco has racked up 32 strikeouts with just six walks over his past five outings. ... For more on the Tribe, check out the CastroTurf blog.

John Barone is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.