The Cleveland Indians are in need of a designated hitter to replace oft-injured Travis Hafner, who is out for four to six weeks after undergoing arthroscopic surgery Thursday on his right knee.
The Tribe could go with a combination of players on the current 25-man roster, including Johnny Damon, Shelley Duncan, Jose Lopez, catcher Carlos Santana and recently promoted Lonnie Chisenhall. Also among the possibilities would be the promotion of Matt LaPorta, who was hitting .304 through 44 games in Triple-A Columbus, or Russ Canzler. LaPorta and Canzler could also play first base or left field.
The Indians’ offense has performed poorly against left-handed starters this season (4-11 with a .214 average), so finding a right-handed DH who can hit lefties would be a bonus.
–The slumping Indians — they’ve lost five of their past six games to drop out of first place in the AL Central — could get a boost this weekend by playing the Minnesota Twins. The Twins, one of the worst teams in the majors, come to Progressive Field for a three-game series.
–The Indians could be adding a familiar face to their rotation by the Midsummer Classic. There are reports that Roberto Hernandez, the starter formerly known as Fausto Carmona, could be back in the U.S. by the All-Star break. Hernandez, who has been throwing simulated games at the Indians’ baseball academy in the Dominican Republic, is dealing with visa issues stemming from his false identity charges.
–Pittsburgh Pirates reliever Jason Grilli is an All-Star candidate this season, thanks to a wicked slider that’s producing impressive strikeout totals. Grilli, 35, is off to the best start of his career with a 1-1 record and 1.80 ERA in 21 appearances. He’s struck out 35 of the 82 batters he’s faced.
Grilli is the son of former Gannon pitcher and major leaguer Steve Grilli.