CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Indians have yet another lineup hole to fill after putting designated hitter Travis Hafner on the disabled list Monday.
General manager Chris Antonetti said Hafner will be sidelined at least two weeks with a strained right foot. The first-year GM is working the waiver wire to try and find help. Thus far, he has been swinging and missing as much as the Indians, who lead the AL in strikeouts.
“We’ve been aggressive, but haven’t had a fit yet or teams withdraw the players,” Antonetti said. “We will continue to do whatever we can to try and improve our team.”
That could include talking to Minnesota about 40-year-old DH Jim Thome now that the Twins are 13 games out in the AL Central. The second-place Indians, 4½ games back, may get their effort blocked by another team with a lesser record putting in a claim, such as the third-place Chicago White Sox.
Thome hit the first 334 of his 601 career homers with Cleveland before leaving as a free agent following the 2002 season. He has been limited to 68 games this year, batting .256 with 12 homers and 40 RBIs and would be a popular addition with fans.
Hafner has been playing with a painful foot since injuring it on a slide in April. He recently fouled a ball off the it, re-aggravating the problem.
Hafner also was sidelined for a month until mid-June with a strained right oblique. In 82 games, he is hitting .281 with 11 homers and 49 RBIs.
Right-hander Josh Judy was recalled from Triple-A Columbus to take his roster spot and give some help to an overworked bullpen before Cleveland began a four-game series with Seattle that will be played in three days.
Manager Manny Acta’s lineup was further depleted as outfielder Shin-Soo Choo joined his wife for the birth of their third child. Outfielder Grady Sizemore and second baseman Jason Kipnis remained on the disabled list. Sizemore, however, hopes to be back soon.
“If all goes well this week, I could go out on a rehab assignment at the end of next week,” said Sizemore, sidelined since July 18 with a right knee injury. He had abdominal surgery July 21 to repair a hernia and said the break to recover from the operation helped his knee mend, too.
“I’m showing progress and feel pretty good,” Sizemore said. “I’ve been hitting, doing some light jogging. I’ll run the bases this week, then try some sliding.”
Acta doesn’t think Kipnis will be recovered from a strained right hamstring when he is eligible to be activated Aug. 29. The rookie provided an offensive spark in 18 games after being called up, batting .279 with six homers and 11 RBIs.
With 14 of their next 17 games at home, Acta remains confident the resilient Indians can overcome first-place Detroit after losing three straight to the Tigers over the weekend.
“I never anticipated our team surviving the loss of these guys,” he said. “To succeed as long as we have without Grady, Choo (who missed six weeks with a broken thumb) and Hafner is encouraging.
“I’m proud of the progress our pitchers have made. They kept us afloat.”
Ubaldo Jimenez has not done what the Indians anticipated, however, when they sent four prime prospects to Colorado for the right-hander at the July 31 trade deadline. Jimenez is 1-1 with a 7.29 ERA in four starts and Antonetti said pitching coach Tim Belcher is trying to iron out some kinks in Jimenez’s game.
“His velocity is down from last year, but he’s still in the top 10 in baseball,” Antonetti said. “He’s going through some adjustments in regards to pitch selection and mechanics.”