CHICAGO -- It has been two weeks since Jack Hannahan has started a game for the Indians, but the third baseman is hopeful that he can return to the field during this weekend's series against the White Sox.
"I'm feeling good," said Hannahan, who has been dealing with a persistent back injury. "I mean, I don't make out the lineup card, but I feel like I could play."
Tribe manager Manny Acta is in charge of that card and he indicated that Hannahan will likely be in the starting lineup for Saturday's game against the White Sox. The third baseman first needed to go through Friday's pregame workout without any lingering problems.
"If everything works out," Acta said, "and he goes through the workout [Friday] with no issues, he probably will start tomorrow."
Hannahan's last game action came against the Red Sox on May 13, after which he developed the back injury during the team's flight to Minnesota. The third baseman has since missed 11 games, giving backup infielder Jose Lopez a chance to play on a regular basis.
Entering Friday, Lopez was hitting .353 (12-for-34) with one home run, four doubles and seven RBIs across a 10-game hitting streak in Hannahan's absence.
"I don't want to talk about that," Lopez said with a laugh. "I want to keep it going. I've played like 10 games in a row and I'm swinging pretty good. I want to keep going."
As well as Lopez has played, Acta has noted that Hannahan has hardly lost his starting role at third base. In 30 games for Cleveland this season, Hannahan has hit .287 with three homers, six doubles and 18 RBIs. The third baseman has hit .338 against right-handed pitching and .393 with runners in scoring position.
Hafner likely to miss weekend series
CHICAGO -- The locker reserved for Travis Hafner inside the visitors' clubhouse at U.S. Cellular Field sat empty on Friday afternoon and it is unlikely that any of the Indians designated hitter's jerseys will be hung in the stall this weekend.
While the Tribe prepared for its three-game road series against the White Sox, Hafner remained in Cleveland to rehab a right knee injury. An MRI exam performed on Thursday revealed irritation of the meniscus and the DH received an anti-inflammatory shot to ease the discomfort.
"He's going to rest it and rehab it over the next two or three days," Indians head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff said. "We're hoping to have him available later on this weekend, but most likely early next week. We're hopeful that the medication and the rest will be sufficient for resolution of symptoms."
Soloff said he spoke with Hafner on Friday morning, noting that the 34-year-old indicated that he was feeling better. As things currently stand, Hafner has not been placed on the disabled list and Cleveland is optimistic about his chances of avoiding surgery.
Indians manager Manny Acta gave Shelley Duncan the nod as the Tribe's DH for Friday's game against Chicago and said outfielder Johnny Damon, infielder Jose Lopez and catcher Carlos Santana could also fill in at that position. Acta went on to express how important Hafner is for the Indians' lineup.
"He's a presence," Acta said. "That's what he does for us. He changes the way they pitch to guys and he's a threat every time he's up. That's why he's so important to us. Travis brings the other dimension that a lot of guys don't have. He and Santana have it. Even when they're not hitting, they're walking, so they're on base."
Through 39 games this season, Hafner has hit .242 with six home runs, six doubles, 23 RBIs and a .380 on-base percentage.
Soloff said that Hafner complained of stiffness in his right knee on Wednesday morning, but the DH still played in a 4-2 win over the Tigers.
In his first at-bat, Hafner fouled a pitch off his right shin and he was noticeably bothered while running the bases later in the game. The DH went 1-for-3 with a home run and a walk in the win, but the knee pain worsened overnight Wednesday and into Thursday morning.
Quote to note
"Just tell them the magic is back at Progressive Field!"
-- Indians starter Derek Lowe, yelling while reporters tried to interview pitcher Josh Tomlin on Friday afternoon
Friday marked the 31st straight game that shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera was in the lineup for the Indians. Over the 30 games heading into Friday's tilt against the White Sox, Cabrera hit .306 (34-for-111) with three home runs, 11 doubles, 15 runs, 16 RBIs and 17 walks.
"We're going to have to try to find a way to get him a day off," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "Since he came back from the bereavement list [on April 24], he's played every game."
Indians center fielder Michael Brantley was out of the lineup on Friday, but manager Manny Acta said it was just a routine day off. Aaron Cunningham got the nod in center in place of Brantley. Acta noted that he wants to keep finding opportune times to give his regular players a day off every now and then.
The Indians entered Friday with a Major League-best 10-2 (.833 winning percentage) mark in one-run games. Over the past four seasons, Cleveland's 82-70 (.539) record in one-run games was the fifth-best showing in the Majors and the second-best mark in the American League. Tampa Bay led the AL with a 86-73 (.541) record in that span.
Indians radio play-by-play man Jim Rosenhaus will be joined by former Cleveland pitcher Scott Bailes in the booth for the Friday and Saturday games against the White Sox. Bailes, who pitched for the Tribe from 1986-89) is filling in for Tom Hamilton.