UPDATE: Hafner will have his knee scoped tomorrow and is expected to miss 4-6 weeks, the Indians announced.
Travis Hafner has missed the past six games with a sore right knee and this morning the Indians placed him on the disabled list, calling up left-hander Scott Barnes from Triple-A to fill his roster spot.
Hafner has been able to swing a bat despite the injury, but even the limited amount of running required for a designated hitter is too much, forcing him to the disabled list for the sixth time in four seasons.
It’s a shame too, because Hafner remains a productive player throughout all the health problems. He hadn’t hit for a good batting average, the 35-year-old has six homers and the ninth-most walks in the league on the way to an OPS above .800 for the ninth time in 10 full seasons.
It’s unclear who’ll see most of the DH action with Hafner out, as so far the Indians have used six different players there in the six games he missed.
There’s no doubt that the last three years have put David Wright through the ringer. The Mets third baseman missed the bulk of his 2015 season with spinal stenosis and made it through a month of games in 2016 before undergoing season-ending surgery to repair a herniated disc in his neck. In 2017, a bout of shoulder impingement, rotator cuff surgery and a laminotomy procedure on his lower back kept him off the field for all 162 games.
Despite the continual setbacks, Wright told MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo, he doesn’t believe retirement is in the cards for him this year. “When the end comes, the end comes,” he said Friday. “Hopefully, I’ve got a little more left. But I guess that’s to be determined.”
The 35-year-old last appeared for High-A St. Lucie in 2017, powering through three games with one hit and five strikeouts in 10 plate appearances. His career has advanced in fits and starts since 2015, but you don’t have to do too much digging to find his last great performance with the Mets. Wright earned his seventh career All-Star berth in 2013, slashing .307/.390/.514 with 18 home runs and a terrific 6.0 fWAR in 492 PA. While he isn’t expected to mash at those levels in the near future, if ever again, the Mets believe the veteran third baseman might still have something left in the tank as he tries to extend a 13-year run in the majors.
Per DiComo, the only thing standing in his way is a clean bill of health — not just for the upcoming season, but for the years to come. Wright said he wouldn’t risk returning to the field if it came with long-term implications for his quality of life.
The surgeries are obviously serious stuff, but it just kind of plays with your mind mentally, where you don’t know how your body’s going to hold up,” Wright said. “You don’t know how you’re going to feel a month from now. You don’t know how you’re going to feel a couple weeks from now. You’re hoping that it continues to get better, but you just don’t know.
Given the uncertainty that surrounds his return to the game, it’s a prudent outlook to have.