Travis Hafner on track to return from disabled list Monday

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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.

Jhoulys Chacin will start Opening Day for the Padres

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Jhoulys Chacin will start on Opening Day, April 3 against the Dodgers in Los Angeles, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. It will be Chacin’s second Opening Day start, the other coming in 2013 with the Rockies against the Brewers. He’ll be the fifth different Padres pitcher in as many years to start on Opening Day.

Chacin, 29, inked a one-year, $1.75 million contract with the Padres in December. The right-hander spent the 2016 season with the Braves and Angels, compiling an aggregate 4.81 ERA with a 119/55 K/BB ratio in 144 innings.

Lin notes that Chacin will be followed in the rotation by Clayton Richard and Jered Weaver. It will be an interesting rotation, to say the least, as it will arguably be the worst in baseball.

Matt Boyd earns No. 5 spot in Tigers’ starting rotation

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Matt Boyd has earned the No. 5 spot in the Tigers’ starting rotation, which means veteran Anibal Sanchez will pitch out of the bullpen, MLB.com’s Jason Beck reported on Wednesday.

Boyd, 26, pitched well this spring, compiling a 2.49 ERA with a 21/0 K/BB ratio in 21 2/3 innings. The lefty’s numbers in the majors last year weren’t nearly as good.

Sanchez, 33, is coming off of the worst season of his career and overall didn’t have a great spring, putting up a 5.03 ERA with a 20/4 K/BB ratio in 19 2/3 innings. He came on strong at the end, however, tossing 14 consecutive scoreless innings. Manager Brad Ausmus didn’t rule out the possibility of Sanchez returning to the rotation at some point.