Travis Hafner was originally expected to miss four to six weeks after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee on May 31. It sounds like he’ll be able to come pretty close to meeting the low end of that timetable.
Hafner began a minor league rehab assignment with Triple-A Columbus last night and went 1-for-3 with a strikeout. He’s expected to continue getting at-bats in the minors through the weekend, but Indians manager Manny Acta told Jordan Bastian of MLB.com this afternoon that it’s “realistic” he’ll rejoin the team for Monday’s game against the Angels.
Hafner, 35, was hitting .242/.380/.439 with six homers, 23 RBI and an .819 OPS in 166 plate appearances prior to the surgery. The Indians have relied on multiple players to fill the DH spot during his absence.
Long-time rotation mainstay Tom Koehler was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans on Monday and reliever Hunter Cervenka was recalled, the Marlins announced.
Koehler, 31, made 131 starts out of the Marlins’ rotation over the last five years, but his 12 this season have not been good, so the club hopes he can figure things out with a stint in the minors. He’s carrying a 7.92 ERA with a 44/29 K/BB ratio in 55 2/3 innings. Koehler battled bursitis in his right shoulder in May and June, which may partially explain his struggles.
Cervenka, 27, posted a 4.50 ERA with a 34/21 K/BB ratio in 34 innings of relief with New Orleans. He hasn’t pitched in the majors yet this season, but compiled a 3.53 ERA over 43 1/3 innings in the bigs last year in the Marlins’ bullpen.
At the trade deadline, relief pitching is the name of the game and one of the names clearly available is Pat Neshek. Today Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reports that the Nationals, Dodgers, and Red Sox are among the clubs who are closely scouting the Phillies reliever. Last week Ken Rosenthal reported that the Brewers and Rays were involved as well.
Neshek is an impending free agent, so he may come cheaper than Justin Wilson or some of the other bullpen arms available right now. The All-Star is 36 and is posting a fantastic season, featuring a 1.12 ERA and 45/5 K/BB ratio over 40.1 innings this season.