CLEVELAND -- It might be time to label Travis Hafner's shoulder issue a chronic condition.Hafner's shoulder saga continued on Thursday, when he was scratched from the lineup for the series finale against the Yankees shortly before batting practice began. Hafner, holed up in the trainer's room, was not available to reporters. But according to Bart Swain, media relations director, the shoulder began bothering Hafner during last Friday's rain-soaked win over the Rays. The game was stopped and restarted twice because of rain delays, and the stopping and starting, it appears, affected Hafner negatively. The shoulder has affected the 33-year-old Hafner enough this season for him to shorten his swing and try to become more top-hand (in his case, left-hand) dominant. He has managed the shoulder well enough to be available to play on a consistent basis, though manager Manny Acta has made it common practice to rest Hafner against many left-handed starters. Hafner was once a veritable MVP candidate, but his power numbers began to take a tumble in 2007, and he's endured shoulder problems regularly since 2008. He played just 57 games in '08 and had arthroscopic surgery on the shoulder at season's end. Last year, the shoulder limited him to 94 games. This was supposed to be Hafner's first season at full health since 2007, because he was more than a year removed from the surgical procedure. But as Thursday's development proved, the shoulder issue is not going away easily. In 82 games this season, Hafner is batting .267 with nine homers and 33 RBIs.
Nix takes over at third after Peralta trade
CLEVELAND -- The Indians' new third baseman is their old second baseman.The Tribe traded Jhonny Peralta to the Tigers in order to get a look at their internal options for the hot corner for 2011 and beyond, and Jayson Nix is going to get the first crack at the position. Andy Marte will continue to serve as the backup at third, and Luis Valbuena will bounce around between second, short and third. Prospect Jared Goedert, whose eye-popping statistics at Triple-A Columbus have made him a hot topic among fans, will remain in the Minors for now. Manager Manny Acta said that Goedert (17 homers, 1.030 OPS in 46 games at Columbus) will likely be a September callup. Nix had been the Tribe's regular at second for about three weeks after the club claimed him off waivers from the White Sox in late June. But when Asdrubal Cabrera returned from the disabled list, Jason Donald went from short to second, and Nix became a utility guy. Now Nix has another chance to show what he can do with consistent playing time, something that has been difficult for him to come by in his Major League career. "It's a good opportunity," Nix said. "Any time you're in the lineup, it's a good thing. We'll see where it goes." Nix's start at third for Thursday's series finale with the Yankees was the 21st of his career. He made 12 starts for the Sox at that spot earlier this season. Though Nix, who is batting .255 with six homers and 12 RBIs in 24 games with the Tribe, is most comfortable at second, he said that he has the arm to handle the move to third. "You see me throw that guy out from left field?" he asked with a smile, referring to his outfield assist in Minnesota last week.
Shapiro has no immediate plan to trade starters
CLEVELAND -- Much of the speculation regarding the Indians, looking ahead to Saturday's non-waiver Trade Deadline, revolves around starting pitchers Jake Westbrook and Fausto Carmona.With Cliff Lee dealt to the Rangers and Roy Oswalt heading to Philadelphia, contending teams looking to beef up their rotation for the stretch will focus on the next tier of potentially available starters -- a group that includes the two right-handers at the front of the Tribe rotation. The Indians, however, do not appear inclined to deal Carmona (10-8, 3.92 ERA), on whom they have relatively affordable club options through 2014. And they're certainly not just going to give away Westbrook (6-7, 4.65 ERA), particularly given the possibility that they might try to sign the veteran sinkerballer in the offseason. General manager Mark Shapiro refuses to comment on specific players in such a manner, but he told reporters following Wednesday's trade that sent Jhonny Peralta to the Tigers that he's not itching to deal any of his starting arms. "I would say that, compared to the past two years, there's no sense of urgency that we have to move anyone, there's no financial motivation or the need to create opportunities for anyone," Shapiro said. "We'll take a look at each individual case and the value we can get back, as well as alternatives that would get the playing time. Those things enter into the equation." Westbrook and closer Kerry Wood are in similar boats, in that either has the potential to be dealt in August. Westbrook is making $11 million this season, and Wood is making $10.5 million. In this climate, with teams trying to avoid assuming additional salary, both would likely clear waivers and be eligible to be dealt in August.
The Indians entered Thursday in a 3-for-52 funk with runners in scoring position. ... The Indians are leading the American League in wins by rookie pitchers, with 10. Mitch Talbot had eight, entering Thursday, and Josh Tomlin and Jeanmar Gomez each had one. ... Trevor Crowe is batting .347 (17-for-49) over his past 14 games, and Shin-Soo Choo is batting .455 (10-for-22) since his activation from the disabled list. ... First baseman/outfielder Matt McBride was promoted to Triple-A Columbus after batting .285 with 17 homers and 64 RBIs in 94 games with Double-A Akron. ... For more on the Tribe, visit the CastroTurf blog.