Hafner misses third straight game because of shoulder injury

CLEVELAND -- Cleveland Indians designated hitter Travis Hafner was out of the starting lineup for the third straight game Wednesday because of an injured right shoulder, but he was optimistic he could avoid a trip to the disabled list.

"I hope to be back in the lineup by Friday," he said before the Indians played the Chicago White Sox.

Manager Eric Wedge said if Hafner isn't ready to play by the weekend series at Kansas City, the team would consider putting him on the DL.

Hafner, who has been in a season-long slump, said the shoulder began bothering him midway through spring training. He had a cortisone shot Tuesday and hopes four straight days of rest will help healing. Hafner has had several tests, including an MRI exam.

"There's no structural damage," he said. "The main thing is it's just weakness. When it flares up, I lose strength in the shoulder. It gets tough to swing. That's when I need a day off."

Hafner is batting .217 with four homers and 22 RBIs in 46 games. He's in a 10-for-42 slump in his last 15 games and is hitting .189 (20-for-106) with two homers and 12 RBIs in his last 33 games.

Hafner can't pinpoint any one incident that has caused the problem.

"It's been a gradual thing over time," he said.

Hafner's production fell off last season, when he batted .267 with 24 homers and 100 RBIs. Last July, he signed a $57 million, four-year contract extension through 2012.