09/18/12 7:50 PM ET
Hafner could return during current homestand
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
On Tuesday, Indians manager Manny Acta indicated that the ballclub is optimistic about having Hafner back in the mix at some point on the current homestand, which runs through Thursday. The DH has been sidelined with a back injury since Aug. 5.
"I can't give you an exact day," Acta said. "But I'm hopeful to get him back this homestand."
With inclement weather forcing Cleveland's pregame work indoors on Tuesday, Hafner continued his hitting program in the batting cage. If the 35-year-old Hafner does return as expected, Acta said first baseman Casey Kotchman would likely lose at-bats, with Russ Canzler getting more time at first as opposed to DH.
In 60 games this season, Hafner has hit .239 with 11 home runs and 32 RBIs, missing all of June with a right knee injury. The DH has hit just .208 over his past 48 games, dating back to April.
This winter, the Indians will need to decide between a $13 million club option for 2013 or a $2.75 million buyout of Hafner's contract. Cleveland is expected to take the less expensive option.
Under the circumstances, which include Cleveland eliminated from the postseason chase and trying to avoid a last-place finish in the American League Central, Acta was asked what benefit there is to having Hafner, 35, return for the final two weeks of the season.
"If you're fine, you should play, regardless of who you are," Acta said. "The season is not over and we're obviously a better bacllclub when he's in our lineup and producing."
Kipnis honored by Clemente Award nomination
CLEVELAND -- Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis does not take being mentioned in the same breath as Roberto Clemente lightly. Kipnis understands that such recognition is a privilege.
On Tuesday, Kipnis was named the Indians' nominee for the 2012 Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet. The award is given to the player who best represents the game of baseball through positive contributions on and off the field, including sportsmanship and community involvement.
"Anyone who gets into the same sentence with him is obviously honored," said Kipnis, who is one of 30 nominees. "You try to be a good person and a good teammate on and off the field. Everyone knows that's what he was. He is a role model for that."
Fans can vote for the Roberto Clemente Award recipient at MLB.com/Clemente Award and register for a trip to this season's World Series.
Kipnis, who is in his first full season with the Tribe, has volunteered a significant amount of time for Cleveland Indians Charities. The young second baseman is also the ballclub's spokesman for the organization's annual glove drive. Kipnis was honored on Tuesday in a pregame ceremony, which included a $7,500 donation to CIC by Chevrolet.
"Jason's personalities on the field and off the field have made him a fan favorite in a short time," Steve Frohwerk, the director of Cleveland Indians Charities, said in a press release. "During Spring Training, he visited with cancer patients and made hospital visits with teammates. Throughout the season, he takes the time daily to sign autographs, greet groups at the ballpark, and chat with kids who are that day's Honorary Bat Kid."
Kipnis felt there were multiple players in Cleveland's clubhouse worthy of the honor.
"There's a lot of guys on this team that I know personally could have been good recipients of that award, too," Kipnis said. "They do off-field activities and help out where they can, and give up some of their free time to visit people in hospitals and stuff like that. I'm definitely honored to accept the nomination and represent Cleveland."
Reliever Perez's comeback attempt shut down
CLEVELAND -- Rafael Perez's five-month comeback attempt has come to a disappointing end. Indians manager Manny Acta announced on Tuesday that the left-handed reliever is being shut down for the season.
Perez -- sidelined since late April -- suffered a setback with his left shoulder.
"I don't think Raffy is going to be able to pitch for us for the rest of the season," Acta said.
Perez has been dealing with a shoulder problem (officially described by the Indians as a strained left lat muscle) since Spring Training. The lefty pitched eight games (3.52 ERA) for Cleveland in April before landing on the disabled list, where he has remained all season long.
Asked if Perez might be facing surgery, Acta deferred to Indians head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff. The Indians announced later that Perez's latest injury is a recurrence of inflammation and soreness in his throwing shoulder, noting that there were no current plans for surgical intervention.
Perez, 30, also sprained his right ankle during a Minor League rehab appearance for Triple-A Columbus on Aug. 11. The lefty had five Minor League outings, but was never able to return to full strength for Cleveland.
As a result, the Indians labored to find reliable left-handed relief pitching throughout this trying season. The slew of setbacks for Perez, who has spent parts of seven seasons with Cleveland, undeniably hurt the Tribe.
"It certainly didn't help us," Acta said. "He's been so reliable here for the last three years, the amount of appearances he piles up, and his ability to get lefties and righties at a certain part of the game. He can pitch in the sixth. He can pitch in the seventh or eighth, if you have to.
"Just being able to have that steady veteran guy out of the 'pen, we did kind of scuffle a little bit without him. We missed him."
Shapiro ends Twitter silence
CLEVELAND -- Indians president Mark Shapiro has been one of the organization's leading voices on the social media front over the past two years. That made his two-month hiatus from Twitter a surprising turn this season.
On Tuesday, Shapiro returned under his handle of @MarkShapiro and, in a series of six tweets, offered an explanation to his more than 33,000 followers.
"Want to reconnect with all of you Tribe fans," Shapiro wrote on his account. "Sorry for my absence, been a rough time for all & I stepped back to focus on leading the [organization]. We're as disappointed in this season as you are and can't thank you enough for the dedication you show every day toward our team.
"We are lucky to have fans with your passion and are working tirelessly to bring you that championship you deserve. The reason I joined Twitter though is to connect directly with you all, so I want to refocus my efforts with that goal in mind."
Shapiro then spent an hour between 3-4 p.m. ET answering individual questions from fans, noting that he would "be in touch regularly" leading up to the offseason. Prior to Tuesday's session on Twitter, Shapiro's last message was posted on July 20.
Quote to note
"I don't care which hand they throw with. It helps to have a lefty, because a lot of times teams change their lineups based on who's pitching. Regardless of who you play off the bench, it's never going to be better than your everyday guys. That helps. That being said, we need somebody who can get people out."
-- Indians manager Manny Acta, on the benefit of having a lefty in the rotation
• Indians starter Roberto Hernandez, who has been out since Aug. 27 with a sprained right ankle, threw off the mound in an extended bullpen session on Tuesday. Manager Manny Acta said Hernandez would be re-evaluated in the coming days.
• Lefty Nick Hagadone, who has been out since July 6 with a left hand injury, has resumed throwing and will likely participate in winter ball, according to Acta. The Indians are hopeful that Hagadone will be ready in time for Spring Training.
• Indians infielder Jason Donald (right wrist contusion) played catch prior to Tuesday's game under the supervision of Acta. Donald is currently only available off the bench for pinch-running or emergency fielding duty.