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.
Yankees’ special advisor and former outfielder Hideki Matsui expects to help the club “convince or recruit” Japanese two-way star Shohei Otani, according to a report from MLB.com’s Deesha Thosar. The Yankees are currently viewed as the favorites to sign Otani, though there still figures to be plenty of competition for his services when he finally becomes eligible to enter Major League Baseball.
Matsui also told Thosar that while he hasn’t seen a player find success as a hybrid pitcher/slugger in the majors, he’s taken notice of Otani’s success in both areas. “He’s done well in Japan, so as a baseball fan I’m looking forward to how he’s going to do here in the Majors and in the U.S.,” Matsui said, later adding, “If [pitching and hitting is] something he wants to do, and the team wants it, then why not?”
Neither the Yankees nor any other suitor should be too concerned with Otani’s ability to translate his .332 batting average and 3.20 ERA to MLB — at least, not just yet. There are still a few roadblocks in his path to the major leagues, most notably the lack of approval from the Players Association. Per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, the union doesn’t want to sign off on an agreement that would give the Nippon Ham Fighters a $20 million posting fee in exchange for Otani’s services. According to the posting system rules, Otani himself would be eligible to receive no more than a $4 million signing bonus.
The good news in all of this? The union agreed to reach a final decision by Monday, November 21, so there’s still a chance Major League Baseball will see the talented two-way player bring his unique skillset to the field in 2018.