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04/30/11 6:17 PM ET

Hafner available to pinch-hit, Acta says

CLEVELAND -- Travis Hafner, three days after straining a tendon on the surface of his right foot, was limping around Progressive Field in a walking boot on Saturday. Yet the Indians, perhaps in honesty or perhaps in strategy, still claimed Hafner was available off the bench.

"Big Pronk can still come out at any time," manager Manny Acta said. "He just has to take off his boot."

Even if Hafner does, indeed, pinch-hit, it's still going to be at least a few more days before he's deemed ready to start. Head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff said Hafner will have to wear the boot for all non-baseball activities until Monday, at which point he'll be reexamined.

As of now, Soloff said, this is not a disabled-list situation.

"The fortuitous thing for us is that his job responsibility is as a DH and DH only," Soloff said. "He has to be able to run and make left-hand turns. We're optimistic this will involve a short time down."

With Hafner, who is batting .342 with a .959 OPS in 21 games, on the shelf, Acta will rotate guys through the DH spot. Shelley Duncan started Thursday and Friday and was 3-for-8 with a homer and three RBIs. Matt LaPorta was in the DH slot Saturday, as Carlos Santana was moved to first base and Lou Marson got the start behind the plate.

Acta's patience with Santana pays off

CLEVELAND -- Plenty of armchair managers wanted Carlos Santana dropped down from the Indians' cleanup spot after his slow start to the 2011 season.

But for one night, at least, the Tribe's real manager, Manny Acta, saw his patience in the young catcher rewarded when Santana smacked a game-winning grand slam against the Tigers on Friday night.

"I don't know when the real estate market is going to bounce back," Acta said, "but I do know that Carlos can hit, and he's going to hit."

He certainly hit Joaquin Benoit's 3-1 fastball. It was Santana's first big league grand slam and only his second as a professional.

When he talked to reporters afterward, Santana, who is batting just .195 with a .682 OPS, struggled with the language barrier, responding to questions about the team "coming from behind" by talking about playing behind the plate. But in that conversation, he did say a few pertinent things.

"I'm feeling more comfortable," he said. "The pitchers seem to trust me."

That showed that Santana, who got one of his occasional starts at first base on Saturday, is focused on his responsibilities to the pitching staff, first and foremost. But he and the Indians know what his bat is capable of. And with two big swings in two days (Santana also hit a solo shot Thursday night against the Royals), he's starting to show those capabilities on a more consistent basis.

Smoke signals

• Mitch Talbot (right elbow strain) threw a 30-pitch bullpen session consisting of fastballs and changeups on Saturday. He's still several weeks away from returning to the Tribe.

• Carlos Carrasco (right elbow inflammation) is much closer to returning. He played catch out to 75 feet and is scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Monday. If all goes well, according to head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff, Carrasco will make a rehab start in the Minors after that.

• Grady Sizemore was out of the lineup Saturday as a scheduled, standard day off. The Indians are going to continue to be careful with his surgically-repaired left knee.

• How's this for a trifecta? During a pitching change on Friday night, Asdrubal Cabrera, Orlando Cabrera and Miguel Cabrera were all huddled and chatting at second base.

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, CastroTurf, and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.