CLEVELAND – The Indians have been hit hard again.
Designated hitter Travis Hafner was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained side muscle on Friday, another blow to the AL Central leaders, who had to put center fielder Grady Sizemore on the DL earlier in the week with a bruised knee.
Hafner was injured while taking batting practice on Wednesday in Chicago, and was pulled from the starting lineup. He sat out two games and underwent an MRI before the Indians made the roster move.
Hafner's batting .345 — third in the AL — with five homers and 22 RBIs, and his comeback after several injury-slowed seasons has been one of the keys to the Indians' surprising start. Hafner, who is making his sixth career trip to the DL, is eligible to come off the DL on June 2.
The Indians enter a weekend interleague series against Cincinnati with the AL's best record, and their depth will be tested as they enter a difficult stretch of their schedule without Sizemore and Hafner. After facing the Reds for three games, the Indians will host resurgent Boston before playing three games in Tampa Bay and three in Toronto.
To take Hafner's roster spot, the Indians recalled outfielder Ezequiel Carrera from Triple-A Columbus. The team also recalled reliever Frank Herrmann from the Clippers and optioned infielder Luis Valbuena, who was up with the major league club for just one day.
Carrera, 23, was batting .317 with 17 RBIs and 15 steals at Columbus.