BALTIMORE: Indians catcher Carlos Santana was out of the lineup Thursday night with soreness in the right side near his back. However, manager Manny Acta indicated that his catcher might be back as early as tonight.

“Carlos was much better today,” Acta said. “He tested very well for Lonnie [head trainer Lonnie Soloff]. But we wanted to give him a complete day off and see how he is tomorrow.”

Asked if Santana’s injury might drag on long enough to require a stint on the disabled list, Acta said, “We’re not thinking about that right now.”

Acta said that whenever Santana returns to the lineup, he would be able to catch immediately. There would be no need to use him as the designated hitter for a day or two before he went back behind the plate.

NO PROBLEMS — Travis Hafner spent his first day on a rehab assignment at Triple-A Columbus on Wednesday night and got a hit.

“He did well,” Acta said. “He went 1-for-3 and was able to go first to third. He’ll take today off and DH tomorrow, then we’ll go from there.”

Hafner, who underwent arthroscopic knee surgery May 24, might be activated when the Tribe begins its next homestand Monday night.

“That’s realistic,” Acta said. “Unless he doesn’t feel right by then.”

NEW SIGNEE — Kent State junior Nick Hamilton, son of Tribe radio voice Tom Hamilton, agreed to terms after being picked in the 35th round of the June draft by the Indians.

Hamilton flew home for the occasion after Wednesday’s game at Yankee Stadium and traveled to Baltimore on Thursday.

FARM FACTS — Chris Seddon (7-5, 3.61 ERA) gave up two runs (one earned) and five hits in 7? innings, but Columbus fell to Norfolk 3-1. ... Giovanny Urshela hit his fourth homer of the season, and Carlos Moncrief and Tony Wolters each had two hits and one RBI, as Carolina beat Frederick 4-2 in Class A. Anthony Gallas had two hits, including a triple. ... Robbie Aviles gave up one run and five hits in five innings, but Mahoning Valley lost 23-1 to Williamsport.

— Sheldon Ocker