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Cleveland Indians

Hafner hits first homer

By Sheldon Published: March 30, 2009

Travis Hafner validated manager Eric Wedge's confidence in him by hitting his first home run of the spring Monday against the Padres.

The Indians' designated hitter picked on a second-inning, 2-and-2 breaking pitch from Kevin Correia and sent it soaring over the right-center field fence, perhaps 395 feet from home plate.

"I don't think Hafner is locked in yet, but he's making progress,'' Wedge said before the game. 

Hafner seems to be in good health after off-season shoulder surgery, so his return to form depends on how quickly he regains his timing and his confidence.

"His frame of mind is an advantage to him,'' Wedge said. ""His confidence is coming back. He feels good physically, and he knows he's on the right path. What he needs to be is patient.''

Hafner has yet to consistently hit the ball hard, but Wedge plans to use him in the cleanup spot, at least to start the season.

"I trust him,'' the manager said. ""One advantage you have when you hang around guys for a long time is you get to know where they're at.''

Going into Monday's game, Hafner was batting .225 with two doubles in 13 spring training games (40 at-bats).

NON-ROSTER INVITEE -- Former President George W. Bush will throw out the first ceremonial pitch at the Rangers' season opener against the Tribe Monday at the Ballpark in Arlington.

Bush was the Rangers' managing partner from 1989-'94. Bush will be the third ex-president to make the first pitch in a Texas season opener.  His father George H.W. Bush performed the honor in 1991, and Gerald Ford threw out the first pitch in 1976.

FULL HOUSE -- The Indians announced Monday that the home opener April 10 against the lue Jays is a sellout. However, the opener is included for fans who purchase a full season ticket plan.

This will be Tribe's 16th consecutive sold-out home opener.

ADD ONS -- Wedge will take extra players to Houston for two exhibition games with the Astros. Though they did not make the club, Tony Graffanino, Andy Marte, Wilson Valdez and Damaso Espino will accompany the club for the two exhibition games before heading to the minors. Wedge also will take two non-roster pitchers.

MINOR DEAL -- The Indians traded left-hander Shawn Nottingham to the Pirates for a player to be named.

Nottingham, 24, who lives in Massillon and graduated from Jackson High School, was 3-4 with a 4.58 ERA in 14 starts at Kinston last year and 0-2 with a 7.09 ERA in 19 relief appeaarances at Akron.

MARCHING ONWARD -- The Indians complete their home spring training schedule this afternoon against the Mariners at Goodyear Ballpark. Scott Lewis will start against Chris Jakubauskas with Joe Smith, Masa Kobayashi and Jensen Lewis set to throw out of the bullpen.

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