Travis Hafner was placed on the 15-day disabled list yesterday with what was described as lower back inflammation, but there’s a chance the injury could cost him the rest of the season.
According to Dennis Manoloff of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, Indians head trainer Lonnie Soloff said this afternoon that Hafner is dealing with a bulging disk in his back. He is currently taking anti-inflammatory medication and was given an epidural injection today.
Hafner believes he’ll need a few weeks of treatment before his status for the rest of the season is decided, but he may have already taken his last at-bat as a member of the Indians. “Pronk” is in the final year of a four-year, $47 million contract which includes a $13 million option for 2013 or a $2.75 million buyout. Injuries have limited the 35-year-old to just 423 games since the start of the 2008 season, so he’ll almost certainly have to look for a new deal in free agency.
Christian Yelich simply can’t be stopped. The Brewers outfielder (and defending NL MVP) entered Saturday’s game with a league-leading 11 home runs after swatting two against the Dodgers on Friday night, then clubbed another two homers in the first six innings of Saturday’s game.
The first came on a 2-1 pitch from the Dodgers’ Hyun-Jin Ryu, who lobbed a changeup toward the bottom of the strike zone before it was lifted up and out to center field for a solo home run in the third inning.
While Chase Anderson and Alex Claudio held down the fort against the Dodgers’ lineup, Yelich prepared for his second blast in the sixth inning — this one a 421-foot double-decker on a first-pitch curveball from Ryu.
Yelich’s 13 home runs not only gave him a stronger grip on the league’s leaderboard, but helped him tie yet another franchise record, too. Per MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy, he’s tied with Prince Fielder for the most home runs hit by a Brewers player in a single month, and sits just one home run shy of tying Álex Rodríguez’s 2007 record for most home runs hit within any club’s first 22 games of the season.
It may be far too early to predict which players will finish first in the MVP races this fall, but there’s no denying Yelich has already set himself apart from the competition. Through Saturday’s performance, he’s batting .361/.459/.880 with a 1.329 OPS and MLB-best 31 RBI across 98 PA so far.