NEW YORK -- Travis Hafner is on his way back to the Indians.
But will it be soon enough?
Hafner, out since May 18 with a right oblique strain, took batting practice Friday in New York. He is scheduled to take batting practice again Sunday and Monday before the Indians decide whether he's ready for a rehabilitation assignment -- and there will be a rehab assignment, manager Manny Acta said.
"I absolutely think he's going to need some games because of how long he's been out," Acta said Friday afternoon.
That means the Indians will be without Hafner for this weekend's entire four-game series in New York and probably also for the three-game series in Detroit that begins Tuesday.
The Indians have gone 8-13 in Hafner's absence, and their lead in the American League Central, once seven games, was down to one game over the Tigers heading into the weekend. The Indians have averaged just 3.2 runs a game since Hafner went out of the lineup, and they've been held to two runs or fewer in 13 of the 21 games.
Even if Hafner is able to return to the lineup when the Indians come home next Friday, the timing won't be great. After six games at home, the Indians will go on a nine-game interleague trip where Hafner will be limited to pinch-hit duty.