ANAHEIM -- Physical issues kept designated hitter Travis Hafner out of the Indians' lineup with regularity in 2008 and 2009. But here in 2010, it's Hafner's struggles at the plate, not struggles with his right shoulder, that have him seeing more time on the pine.Pronk was out of manager Manny Acta's lineup for the second time in three games Tuesday. Not so coincidentally, both of those benchings came with a left-handed starter on the mound for the opposition -- Gio Gonzalez in Oakland on Sunday and Joe Saunders at Angel Stadium on Tuesday. Hafner, who has made all of his starts at either the No. 4 or No. 5 spot of the lineup, has had his problems against pitchers of all shapes, sizes and deliveries, but lefties have especially tripped him up. He is batting .148 (4-for-27) with no homers and two RBIs against them. Against right-handers, he's batting .235 (8-for-34) with two homers and three RBIs. Acta, who noted he has seen "inconsistency in [Hafner's] swing and approach," said Pronk will start against right-hander Ervin Santana on Wednesday. "In sports and in life, you try to put people in a position where they can have success," Acta said.
Indians eye Wood's return within two weeks
ANAHEIM -- If the plans change, it wouldn't be the first time in Kerry Wood's recovery from a right back muscle strain. But the plan for now is to have Wood back closing games for the Indians in 10 to 14 days.That timetable comes with the usual caveat of everything working out, of course. But it's the first timetable announced by the Indians since Wood initially suffered the muscle strain under his right shoulder during Spring Training. Wood threw a 35-pitch bullpen session before Tuesday's game at Angel Stadium, and he'll throw again Friday in Cleveland. "He'll have one simulated game [in Cleveland], then two rehab outings [in the Minors] so he can come in and close games right away," manager Manny Acta said. "If he goes through the rehab outings and gets his command, he can come in here and step right in." Wood initially seemed against the idea of going to the Minors, but he warmed to the idea after having a shaky sim session in Oakland last Friday. The Indians want him to be ready for the ninth inning as soon as he returns. Chris Perez has filled in for Wood and gone 4-for-5 in save opportunities. But Perez, entering Tuesday, hadn't had a save situation since April 18.
Neither Sizemore, nor Tribe offense, is going
ANAHEIM -- Manny Acta summed up the Indians' offense as simply as he could."As Grady goes, we go," Acta said Tuesday. He was referring to Grady Sizemore, of course, and that's a rather grim equation, at this point of the season. Sizemore, the Indians' No. 2 hitter, entered Tuesday batting just .203 with no homers, four doubles, two triples, six RBIs and a .610 OPS. So that's a big reason why the Tribe offense had managed to score just 62 runs in 19 games. But with no physical limitations following the two surgeries he had last September, Sizemore is counted on to break out soon. "He's very close to just getting loose and starting to hit the ball around for us," Acta said. "He's swinging the bat well, and he's ready to snap out of it. I'm anxious to see him start knocking the ball around."
Kearns is healthy, and hitting
ANAHEIM -- One of the few bright spots -- and a surprising one, at that -- in the Indians' lineup this season has been fourth outfielder Austin Kearns.Actually, to call Kearns the fourth outfielder at this point would seem a bit inaccurate, given that he's now started 10 of the Indians' 19 games this season. The playing time is a function of Russell Branyan's time on the disabled list and the early struggles of Matt LaPorta and Travis Hafner but also of Kearns' production. He entered Tuesday batting .368 (14-for-38) with four doubles, a homer and five RBIs in 11 games played. Manny Acta managed Kearns in Washington the last two years and said the difference between that Kearns and this one is health. Kearns played in just 86 games in '08 because of a stress fracture in his left foot and right elbow surgery, and he played in just 80 games last year because of right thumb surgery. "He was beat up the last two years in D.C.," the Indians' manager said. "This is a guy who plays through pain. He did it over there, and it didn't help him at all. I can tell now he's healthy."
In the Indians' eight wins, entering Tuesday, they had hit .258 as a team, scored 43 runs and posted a 1.95 ERA. In their 11 losses, they had hit .192, scored 19 runs and posted a 5.69 ERA. ... Of the Indians' first 22 games this season, 15 will have been played on the road. That ties the Tribe with the Yankees for the most road games in April in the AL. ... For more Indians news and notes, visit the CastroTurf blog at http://castrovince.mlblogs.com.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.