KANSAS CITY -- Travis Hafner was in the lineup as the designated hitter for the second time in three games on Friday as he recovers from lower back inflammation.
Hafner missed 40 games before returning to action on Wednesday, when he went 0-for-3 with a strikeout. He then sat out Thursday's series finale against the Twins.
"He's good. He's ready to go," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "He knows he's not going to be able to play every day, just three times a week. So obviously after the first day, just normal soreness from being out there. But the day off took care of that, so he should be ready to go today."
Hafner hit sixth in the series opener against the Royals. He entered the contest with 18 home runs, 75 RBIs and a .285 average in 122 career games against Kansas City.
Hernandez still not ready following simulated game
KANSAS CITY -- Indians right-hander Roberto Hernandez threw a simulated game on Friday, and manager Manny Acta said the pitcher is not quite there yet.
"He threw three innings of a simulated game and did some pitchers' fielding practice. He still doesn't look confident enough running around and moving around to send him out there to compete in a game," Acta said.
"He's still not confident enough on his ankle to react to balls and to run. So, he's still not 100 percent on that."
Hernandez has played just three games this season, and none since Aug. 27 against the A's, when he left after 2 1/3 innings with a sprained right ankle. He threw a bullpen session on Tuesday that didn't reveal any problems, but Friday's simulated game was a different story.
"We're going to have another simulated game in Chicago [on] Wednesday for him, and then we'll make a decision after that one," Acta said. "The whole thing behind the Roberto issue is to have him healthy by Oct. 3. So whether it's going to be two simulated games or pitching on the field, that's going to be dictated after the next one."
Acta said that Hernandez would pitch in winter ball this offseason, as he usually does. However, with just 14 1/3 innings of work this season, Hernandez is hoping the Indians will give him permission to pitch more in winter ball, according to Acta.
After missing the first four months of the season dealing with legal issues, Hernandez -- formerly known as Fausto Carmona -- was activated from the restricted list on Aug. 14. In three starts, he allowed 15 runs (12 earned) on 17 hits, including four home runs. He lost all three games and posted an ERA of 7.53.
Royals, Indians draw warnings for plunkings
KANSAS CITY -- After Friday night's third hit batsman, home-plate umpire Gary Cederstrom decided that it was time to do some finger pointing.
Cederstrom issued warnings to both benches following Indians reliever Scott Maine's eighth-inning plunking of Royals outfielder David Lough. For the third time in the game, a manager and the team's athletic trainer came out to take a look.
All this followed Royals reliever Tim Collins hitting Cleveland outfielder Shin-Soo Choo in the hand in the seventh. The hit by pitch -- Choo's 13th of the season -- broke the skin and caused bleeding, which needed to be bandaged.
Choo came around to score on Carlos Santana's two-run single, but the Indians dropped a 6-3 decision in the series opener. In a close game, Choo said he didn't think Kansas City was trying to hit him.
Earlier in the game, Indians starter Justin Masterson hit Alcides Escobar in the forearm.
"That's the way things are nowadays in Major League Baseball," Cleveland manager Manny Acta said. "I didn't think that they hit Choo on purpose. We certainly didn't hit [Lough] on purpose either, but the umpires nowadays are extra careful and they don't want things to get out of hand. We're not going to hit a guy on 3-0 with a runner on third, the game is still close. And if we're going to get back at them for hitting Choo, we're certainly not going pick David Lough to get even."
It wasn't the first time these teams have hit the opposing batters this season. On April 14 at Kauffman Stadium, Choo was hit in the second inning, forcing benches to clear. The following inning, Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas was hit by a pitch. The benches cleared again, and three Indians -- Jeanmar Gomez, Jack Hannahan and Acta -- were ejected.
Quote to note
"The medical staff feels that in a couple of days, he's going to progress to take batting practice. What's bothering him the most has been throwing and batting practice. He's going to progress to that this weekend, and he's taking some medication. He's going to play before the year's over."
-- Manager Manny Acta regarding infielder Jason Donald, who was hit in the right wrist with a pitch from Justin Verlander and hasn't played since Sept. 14.
Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera was back in the Indians' lineup on Friday after sitting out of Thursday's game with a sore right wrist. Manager Manny Acta said Cabrera was OK but might still feel some soreness over the next few days.
After picking up five hits with runners in scoring position in Thursday's 4-3 walk-off win over the Twins in 10 innings, the Indians improved to 15-1 this year in games with five or more hits with runners in scoring position.
Vinnie Duber is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.