CLEVELAND — The Indians received what they are regarding as positive news about Travis Hafner.
Hafner, who left Wednesday’s game in Chicago with a sore left knee, underwent an MRI on Friday that revealed inflammation in the knee and a mild hamstring strain.
“Considering it could have been a DL situation or maybe even longer, for something to be mild like that, I look at that as a positive,” said Cleveland manager Eric Wedge.
“Good news,” said the Indians’ head trainer, Lonnie Soloff. “That’s our take on that.”
Hafner, who has struggled offensively for much of the year, sustained both injuries while sliding into second base after a double against the White Sox on Tuesday. He was pinch hit for in the sixth inning Wednesday and missed the series finale in Chicago on Thursday.
Soloff said Hafner (.254, 18 HR, 70 RBIs) would be available to pinch hit but would not return to the lineup for 3-5 days.
Also, the team’s top prospect, pitcher Adam Miller, has returned to throwing, working a 40-pitch bullpen session on Thursday. The right-hander, who missed time most recently with a sore right elbow, is scheduled to pitch a simulated game at Triple-A Buffalo today before returning to the Bisons’ active roster.
Buffalo outfielder Shin-Soo Choo began a rehab assignment Thursday, serving as the designated hitter for Cleveland’s Gulf Coast League team in Winter Haven, Fla. Choo, who has been out for an extended spell with an elbow strain, is scheduled to play five innings in the outfield today.
The Indians honored Hall of Famer Larry Doby, paying tribute to the outfielder with a ceremony prior to Friday’s game and wearing his No. 14 in the series opener with the Yankees. Doby’s son, Larry Jr., threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
Doby Jr. said his father, who played for the Indians from 1947-55 and again in 1958, dealt with racism as the first black American League player, but not in Cleveland.
“The city was great to him,” he said. “He said they never booed him here, which I found hard to believe. This is a place he felt comfortable. They didn’t care what color he was. They cheered him when he made a catch. They cheered him when he struck out.”
C.C. Sabathia and Grady Sizemore came up with the idea of wearing Doby’s number after watching a recent HBO documentary on him.
“I think Larry Doby is one of the select names that you think of when you think of the history of major league baseball,” Wedge said.
Doby’s story has been overshadowed a bit by his predecessor, Jackie Robinson, but Doby’s son said his father never felt slighted.
“Somebody had to be No. 2. He was very proud to be No. 2,” Doby Jr. said.
Comings and goings
With the Indians not needing a fifth starter until Aug. 25, left-hander Aaron Laffey was optioned back to Buffalo on Friday, with infielder Chris Gomez promoted to fill his roster spot.
Laffey got his first career big league victory Thursday, going 1-1 with a 5.73 ERA in two starts in place of a demoted Cliff Lee.
The Indians claimed Gomez off waivers from the Orioles on Thursday. The 13-year veteran hit .302 with a homer and 16 RBIs in 73 games for Baltimore.
Call to the Hall
The Indians will induct four players — Charles Nagy (1990-02), Andre Thornton (1977-79, 1981-87), Jim Bagby Sr. (1916-22) and Mike Garcia (1948-59) — into the team’s Hall of Fame prior to tonight’s game.
Bagby and Garcia are both deceased, but Nagy and Andre Thornton will attend.
“Having played the majority of my career in an Indians uniform, I’m very aware of the rich history, which makes this honor so very special to me and my family,” said Nagy, a three-time All-Star.
Single-A Kinston shortstop Josh Rodriguez has been on a tear since driving in nine runs during a 22-10 victory over Lynchburg on Aug. 2. In his last seven games prior to Friday and including Aug. 2, Rodriguez is hitting .414 (12-for-29) with six homers and 18 RBIs (homers in four straight games).
• Rodriguez’s teammate, Matt Whitney, homered for the third straight game, hitting his 25th in a 6-4 win at Myrtle Beach. Whitney leads Cleveland’s minor leaguers in homers and RBIs (94) in 105 games with Kinston and Class A Lake County.
Entering Friday, Indians starting pitchers had posted a 7-6 record and a 2.69 ERA over the last 16 games. Cleveland’s starters led the majors in innings pitched (7172/3) through Thursday.
• Indians hitters were batting .226, while averaging 3.6 runs through their last 17 games entering Friday.
• LeBron James, a Yankees fan, was in attendance.
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 653-0899