Indians notes from Aug. 28.
Those who closely watch Travis Hafner say they are beginning to see signs that the Pronk they know and love may soon be back.
Cleveland’s designated hitter has struggled for more than three months, but the numbers and the observation of others could indicate a recent return to form. Through Monday, Hafner was hitting .286 in his past 16 games and .320 in his past six games.
Hafner belted a two-run home run off Minnesota’s Boof Bonser in his first plate appearance of the evening Tuesday.
“I think we are seeing better swings recently,” hitting coach Derek Shelton said. “He’s been driving the ball into the middle of the field, which is a good indication. He’s taking more consistent swings and hitting the ball hard more consistently.”
Shelton said there have been some subtle adjustments -- but no significant changes -- to Hafner’s hitting mechanics.
“We just try to communicate and act as a sounding board for him,” Shelton said. “He knows his swing so well. We listen to him, and we go from there.”
Hafner batted .228 in May, .218 in June, .250 in July and .262 so far in August.
“He’s a heck of a lot closer than he’s been all year,” Indians Manager Eric Wedge said. “It’s not so much about his swing. It’s more about his approach and what he wants to do up there. He’s a good hitter. He’s also a smart hitter.”
What he hasn’t been is a powerful hitter. At his pace through Monday, Hafner would finish the season with 21 doubles and 22 home runs. He had 41, 42 and 31 doubles and 28, 33 and 42 home runs over the past three seasons.
“Once you start taking good swings, the power comes back,” Shelton said. “But you need to take good swings before those power numbers will come back.”
Hafner was working on finding that good swing before Tuesday’s game. As Wedge noted and Bonser will confirm, he’s closer than he’s been in awhile.
“The power never goes away,” Wedge said. “Once you see him start to hit, the power’s going to be right along with it.”
The series concludes tonight at 7:05. C.C. Sabathia (14-7, 3.38) will start against Johan Santana (14-9, 2.97).
Indians farm director Ross Atkins said reports that the Indians have signed 16-year-old Dominican SS Edward Salcedo are a “a rumor and a fabrication.” Atkins said the team has interest in the highly regarded prospect, but notes, “We haven’t made any offers.” A printed report that the New York Yankees had given Salcedo $4.5 million to sign was later proven false.
Change of Heart
Major League Baseball’s scoring committee has overruled an official scorer’s decision from Cleveland’s Aug. 22 game at Detroit. Sean Casey’s first-inning base hit was changed to an error on 1B Victor Martinez, making all three runs in the inning unearned. Paul Byrd’s season ERA dropped from 4.61 to 4.43. “Vic came up to me today and gave me a big hug,” Byrd said. “He’s not selfish. That was nice.”
Moving On Up
The Indians front office will meet today to determine September callups. Some of those promotions will be put on hold if Triple-A Buffalo qualifies for the playoffs. “We’ll have a couple early, then wait for the season to finish for the other guys,” Wedge said. Wedge did specify that no starting pitchers will move into the Cleveland rotation.
On the Farm
Buffalo OF Ben Francisco has been named to the International League’s postseason all-star team. Francisco came into Tuesday leading the league in hitting (.322). The last Bisons player to win a batting championship was Mark Ryal (.334) in 1990.
Reach Repository sports writer Andy Call at (330) 580-8346 or email@example.com.