CHICAGO: Indians head trainer Lonnie Soloff is hopeful that Travis Hafner misses only a few games because of a knee injury, but there are no promises.
Hafner is back in Cleveland after receiving an injection of an anti-inflammatory drug and is not expected to rejoin the team during its weekend series against the Chicago White Sox.
“Clearly, when he fouled a ball off [his leg] Wednesday night, it was an obvious sign that he had a shin issue,” Soloff said Friday. “As we were treating that during the game, he mentioned that he came in Wednesday morning with stiffness in his right knee. He didn’t think too much about it, but it got sore Wednesday night and the pain intensified.”
An MRI scan revealed that Hafner was suffering from irritation in his medial meniscus.
“We’ll let him rehab the knee for the next two or three days,” Soloff said. “We are hoping that he’s available early next week.”
Soloff doesn’t dismiss the possibility that surgery eventually will be required to repair the cartilage, but for now he has reason to believe the current treatment will resolve the problem.
“We’re hopeful that medication and rest will be sufficient,” he said. “In the event it’s not, we will have to introduce a different scenario.”
Hafner told Soloff that he doesn’t recall anything that would have triggered the onset of pain in the knee.
“As the primary shock absorber in the knee, [the meniscus] takes a lot of wear and tear in any athlete,” Soloff said. “You don’t always know what you do to cause that [irritation]; it might be a slide or something else. Travis doesn’t remember any one incident that would provoke the symptoms.”
One day after receiving the injection, Hafner told Soloff he felt that pain in the knee had diminished.
“I spoke to him this morning,” Soloff said. “He’s not 100 percent, but he told me that he’s walking around better.”
Manager Manny Acta probably will use several players to take the place of Hafner as the Tribe’s designated hitter.
“We’ll probably use Johnny Damon, Shelley Duncan, Jose Lopez and Carlos Santana in that spot,” Acta said. “That will give us a chance to get Carlos off his feet.”
Acta looks for ways to give Santana periodic breaks from the demands of catching.