Saturday, May 31, 2008

Doom and gloom over Pronk's injury

The Plain Dealer Web site is reporting that Travis Hafner's shoulder problems may bring a premature end to the big DH's season.

A cortisone shot - the third this season - apparently did not help ease the pain in Hafner's shoulder and the vague "weakness" in the joint that he describes apparently has not gotten any better either with a few days off.

With a stint on the DL, Hafner will have at least 10 days to work to strengthen the shoulder. If rest doesn't help, Hafner's season could be in jeopardy. Or so says the PD.

Certainly not good news. Just as losing a potential lights-out arm for the pen - Adam Miller - is certainly not good news, and much worse news than the ho-hum reception it has gotten by the fans and the media.

Still the news of Hafner's shelving is not quite as bad as it's made out to be by the PD's Paul Hoynes:

"Should that not bring Travis Hafner's sore right shoulder around, perhaps the Indians will have to raise the white flag on a season that keeps getting worse the deeper they get into it."

I'm not one of those bloggers who sits around in his bathrobe in his mother's basement hurling insults at members of the mainstream media. In fact, in my day job I am a member of the mainstream media.

I'm simply stating that in this case Hoynes is going well overboard.

Perhaps it should signal to the Tribe that they must now go out and get a bat. Despite his anemic results at the plate so far this year, Hafner's presence in the middle of the lineup did give opposing pitchers something to think about. If he is out for a lengthy period of time, or for the rest of the year, Victor Martinez may not see another decent pitch all season, unless a replacement stick is brought in.

In addition to perhaps lighting a fire in the front office about improving the offense so that pennant-winning starting pitching doesn't wilt on the vine, Hafner's absence may actually help the lineup. No longer will there be the shadow of a formerly great power hitter mucking up the middle of the order.

No one's blaming Hafner. An injury is an injury. And I'll be as happy as anyone else if/when the real Pronk - the one with a healthy shoulder and a home run cut returns.

Until then the Tribe may do better by working around the absence instead of not admitting that Hafner has been absent even though he's been here all season. That was the failed plan for the first two months of the year.

As far as throwing up the white flag, with the kind of starting pitching this team has, and with the division being what it is, the only way the Tribe is forced out of the race early is if the bullpen continues to be as unreliable as it has been.

The Tribe can play and win close, low-scoring games. But the quickest way to douse the team's hopes is to keep losing those close ones thanks to the pen.

1 comment:

The Bearded One said...

I don't think it would be the worst thing if Hafner is done for the season. An injured Hafner is pretty much useless and the Indians need him to get better, so if it takes him the rest of the season to recover and return to old form by next year, I approve of that. I'd like to see Garko playing full time at DH now and have Aubrey playing first, but that plan is put on hold until Aubrey returns from his stint at Buffalo.