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Hafner could return in four days

By Sheldon Published: May 27, 2009

CLEVELAND: Once a chiropractor snapped his rib head into its original position, Travis Hafner's back quit hurting, and he was a happy Indians camper. ¶
   A simple process, according to Hafner. ¶
   ""You never heard of that?'' he said Wednesday. ""My rib head gets out of place. A chiropractor puts it back in. Cracks it back in place. It's no big deal.'' ¶
   Whether a rib head is a noun or some other part of speech, Hafner knows it when he feels it. ¶
   ""It's happened plenty of times before,'' he said. ""It's not something that makes me miss time or anything.'' ¶
   Not like his surgically repaired right shoulder that has plagued him for a year. Even after the operation, after Hafner had gone through heavy-duty therapy and played in spring training games, he experienced soreness early late last month and was put on the disabled list. ¶
   He was working his way back during a rehabilitation assignment at Columbus when the dreaded rib head thing flared up and he returned to Cleveland. ¶
   ""Now you tell me if this is back related,'' he said of a recent Triple-A road trip. ""Eight hours on a bus to Scranton, then on the off day I flew back here and the next day drove to Buffalo.''  ¶
   Hafner took btting practice Tuesday and Wednesday and is ready to resume hitting at Triple-A, though he has only seven more days to practice his swing in International League games before his rehab assignment expires. ¶
   But he expects to be activated and take his place as the Tribe's designated hitter before that. ¶
   ""Travis will go out tomorrow and play three games in a row,'' manager Eric Wedge said. ""After that, we'll look to get him back up here.'' ¶
   That means unless Hafner suffers a setback, he should be in the Indians' lineup Sunday or Monday. ¶
   Hafner thinks his swing and his batting eye have returned to normal. ¶
   ""When you first get out there, it's a little bit of a mess,'' he said. ""But afrter a couple of games, you get your timing back, and you start to see the ball better. ¶
    ""My swing feels really good right now. I'm having good at-bats and starting to get that consistency.'' ¶
   Is Wedge optimistic about Hafner's immediate future? ¶
   ""We'll see,'' the manager said, laughing then added, ""I still feel if Hafner can get ahead of everything physically, he can help us.'' ¶
   DOLAN HOSPITALIZED -- Tribe owner Larry Dolan, 78, suffered a mild heart attack in Cleveland this morning and has been hospitalized. According to a statement issued by the team, Dolan ""is resting comfortably and is in good spirits.'' ¶
   In 2000, Dolan purchased the club from Richard Jacobs for $323 million. He has his son, Paul, have taken an active role in operating the team, with Paul currently holding the office of president. ¶
   SIZEMORE STILL HURTING -- Grady Sizemore was penciled in again as the Tribe's DH Wednesday night, in deference to his sore left elbow. ¶
   ""I'll stay out of center field for awhile and see what happens,'' Sizemore said. ¶
   No name has been given to Sizemore's malady, and he isn't sure what to call it. ¶
   ""You have to ask the doctor,'' he said. ¶
   According to manager Eric Wedge, ""We're trying to get the elbow calmed down. It doesn't bother him as much when he swings as when he throws. It's more inflammation, and if we keep a baseball out of his hand, hopefully he'll rid himself of this.'' ¶
   ALL-STAR UPDATE -- Victor Martinez is second in the All-Star balloting for American League catchers (284,988 votes) to Joe Mauer (381,443) of the Twins. Grady Sizemore (252,231) is eighth among AL outfielders. The top three are Jason Bay (446,183) of the Red Sox, Josh Hamilton (442,553) of the Rangers and Ichiro Suzuki (306,453) of the Mariners. ¶
   PROMOTION NEAR --- Rafael Perez threw two scoreless innings for Columbus Tuesday night, running his string of shutout innings to nine in seven appearances. ¶
   ""He's been throwing the ball well and gaining some consistency,'' Wedge said. ""I think he's be coming back sooner rather than later.'' *elip Joe Smith, who has been throwing bullpens in Cleveland, probably will go on a brief rehab assignment this week. ¶
   IL HONOREE -- Columbus right fielder Jordan Brown has been named International League Batter of the Week for batting .519, hitting three home runs, amassing seven RBI and scoring six runs. ¶
   His overall average (.362) ranks third in the league, and his 15 doubles is second best in the IL. ¶
   FARM FACTS --  Josh Barfield doubled, singled and drove in two runs in Columbus' 7-5 win over Charlotte. Tony Graffanino had three hits and one RBI; Brown had two hits and one RBI. *elip Mark Thompson homered, singled and drove in three runs, as Lake County defeated Greensboro 8-4. Alexander Perez (3-2, 3.40 ERA) gave up one run and four hits in six innings. ¶

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