CHICAGO: In less than two weeks, the Indians' offense will be getting a new look: pitchers swinging bats.
Beginning June 18, Cleveland goes on the road to play three National League teams: the Pirates, Phillies and Reds, which means for all practical purposes Travis Hafner will be virtually useless to the club, save for occasional pinch hitting appearances.
That's right, no designated hitter. Instead, starters Jake Westbrook, Fausto Carmona, David Huff, Mitch Talbot and Justin Masterson will have their very own spot in the batting order.
Under former manager Eric Wedge, pitchers often were asked to either bunt or stand and take pitches, so fearful were Tribe operatives of their pitchers getting hurt.
Manny Acta managed in the National League, where pitchers routinely bat, so he takes a different approach.
""We're all out,'' he said Sunday. ""They'll bunt and swing the bat. It's very important, because it's going to be for nine games. So we'll find out what they can do. Spring training is over.''
It's doubtful that anyone in the current rotation possesses the natural hitting talent of C.C. Sabathia, who was a threat to go deep every time he stepped in he box. Acta isn't sure which of his pitchers might blossom into a hitter.
""David Huff is athletic and can do some things,'' he said.