CLEVELAND -- The Indians are not sure which amateur player will fall to them with the eighth overall pick in Monday's First-Year Player Draft, but they feel that signing their selection will not be an issue.
Over the past few years, Tribe ownership has shown a willingness to spend when it comes to the Draft. Last year only four clubs spent more than Cleveland did when it came to signing bonuses.
"It's very important for us to build through the Draft," Brad Grant, the Indians' director of amateur scouting, said on Friday. "We're not going to compete on the free-agent market with the larger teams. We have to develop our own players.
"The more players we have the chance to develop, the more we increase our odds of hitting on an impact-type player. Ownership recognizes and understands that it's important for us to draft and develop appropriately and well in order for us to have success."
Last year the Indians landed lefty Drew Pomeranz with the fifth overall pick and handed him a $2.65 million bonus -- the third-largest in franchise history. Overall, the Indians spent $9.4 million on bonuses. The $7.9 million spent on the club's first 10 selections was $3.2 million over slot value.
Cleveland will likely have similar spending freedom this summer.
"We'll take it by a case-by-case situation," Grant said. "But we're not going to rule anybody out based on signability, based on position, based on anything at this point in time."
Hafner getting ready to put bat to ball
CLEVELAND -- Designated hitter Travis Hafner has been reintroduced to his bat, and the two old friends will continue to get reacquainted with each other over the next couple of weeks.
Head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff noted that the veteran -- currently on the 15-day disabled list with a right oblique injury -- took some practice swings without any issues on Friday.
"He's responded well," Soloff said. "He's feeling good. That's encouraging for us."
If Hafner feels up to it on Saturday, he will likely get the go-ahead to hold a meet-and-greet between his bat and a baseball. The plan first calls for him to hit balls off a tee. From there he will slowly add regular batting-practice activities.
"Assuming he continues to progress with his program," Soloff said, "he'll hit off the tee [on Saturday]. Then it's just a gradual progression after that."
Hafner, who turned 34 on Friday, injured the oblique on a swing during pregame batting practice on May 18 in Chicago. The initial timetable for a return to baseball activities was around one month, and Soloff said that has not changed.
This means that Hafner, who was hitting .345 with five home runs and 22 RBIs through 32 games at the time of his injury, likely has another two weeks before he begins playing in games. Whether he will immediately rejoin the Tribe or instead begin a Minor League rehab assignment is undetermined.
"We'll wait until he gets healthy before we even discuss that," manager Manny Acta said. "He's still in the early stages."
According to Soloff's timetable, and barring any setbacks in the recovery process, Hafner might be ready for game activities around June 15. On June 24, Cleveland embarks on a nine-game stretch in National League ballparks, where the team will not be able to use a DH.
Acta reiterated on Friday that the timing of those Interleague games will not stop the Indians from activating Hafner if he is healthy and ready to go.
"When he's ready, he's going to be activated," Acta said. "What would you rather have, Travis Hafner off the bench or somebody else?"
Johnson sent to Double-A Akron
CLEVELAND -- Nick Johnson, signed in early March to provide the Indians with some veteran depth, was activated from extended spring training on Friday and sent to Double-A Akron.
Johnson, who is coming back from surgery on his right wrist, was scheduled to be in the Aeros' lineup on Friday night. In extended spring he had been playing four times per week, splitting his time at first base and designated hitter.
"He progressed through his rehab in Arizona," head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff said.
If Johnson makes the Major League roster, he will have a salary of $750,000. In addition, his contract would include a club option for 2012 worth another $2.75 million.
In 2009, Johnson hit .291 with a .426 on-base percentage between stints with the Nationals and Marlins. Over 133 games that year, he belted eight home runs with 62 RBIs. Over nine seasons in the Majors, he has a .270 average and .401 on-base percentage.
Johnson, 32, played just 24 games with the Yankees last season because of the wrist injury, and he has undergone four procedures on the problematic hand.
The Indians do not have an estimated date for when he might be ready to potentially reach the Majors again.
"We're trying to get him healthy," manager Manny Acta said. "That's the main thing. Then, after that, when we see him play, we'll make a decision."
Acta emotional at being named All-Star coach
CLEVELAND -- Rangers manager Ron Washington heeded the advice of another big league skipper when he decided to name Indians skipper Manny Acta to the American League coaching staff for this year's All-Star Game.
In 2007, Washington was selected as an All-Star coach by Tigers manager Jim Leyland, who was the AL skipper that year. It was the first time Washington received the honor.
"It's something that Jim Leyland said when he picked me," Washington said on Friday. "I wanted somebody who has never been there before to have a chance. Manny has done a great job with the Indians. He has them playing baseball.
"He's done a great job of letting [his players] be who they are and playing the game right. He deserves to go."
Entering Friday, the Indians led the AL Central with a 33-21 record after losing 93 games a season ago. And when Acta learned that Washington, managing the AL after taking Texas to the World Series last fall, wanted him to be an All-Star coach, he was more than thrilled.
"When he dropped that on me, I was kind of in shock and got all teary-eyed," Acta said recently. "At that point I don't think he realized what that meant to me. It was very emotional and hard to keep inside. I wanted to get out of that office, jump around and tell the whole world."
Quote to note
"There's depth with college pitching, depth with high school pitching. There's good high school position players. There's some college position players mixed in there. It's difficult to know what's going to go on at the top. I think what we've done well is make sure we're prepared for any scenario that plays out at No. 8. -- Brad Grant, director of amateur scouting, on this year's First-Year Player Draft
Third baseman Jack Hannahan was scratched from Friday's lineup shortly before the game against the Rangers. The team announced that he was suffering from left hamstring tightness. Adam Everett replaced Hannahan at third base and in the lineup's ninth spot.
Right-hander Alex White, who is on the 15-day disabled list with an injury to his right middle finger, was still in Cleveland with the club as of Friday. Head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff noted that White will travel to the team's complex in Goodyear, Ariz., on Saturday to continue his rehab.
On Friday, FOX selected the Indians' June 25 game against the Giants (4 p.m. ET) and July 2 game against the Reds (4 p.m. ET) for its Saturday national telecasts. Cleveland's June 26 game against San Francisco (8 p.m. ET) has been picked by ESPN for its Sunday Night Game of the Week. SportsTime Ohio will not be able to broadcast these games.