Hafner might need surgery on right shoulder

CLEVELAND -- Indians designated hitter Travis Hafner may need right shoulder surgery after a disappointing end-of-the-season physical exam.

Hafner spent more than three months on the disabled list with a strained shoulder. During his exit physical, team doctors found the strength did not return to levels that the club had hoped following the extended rehab, general manager Mark Shapiro said Tuesday. Hafner and the team are now examining "alternatives" including offseason arthroscopic surgery.

"The strength in his shoulder was not what we had hoped it would be," Shapiro said. "It was a little bit disappointing. Progress was not as great as we would have hoped to have seen."

At the time he went on the DL in May, Hafner was batting just .217 with four homers. Tests showed the left-handed power hitter had mysteriously lost nearly all the strength in his shoulder.

Shapiro would not answer specific questions about Hafner's shoulder or if the DH had visited other doctors outside the club for more opinions. However, Shapiro did reiterate that an operation has always been possible.

"We talked all along that the options are continuing to rehab and strengthen or to get a scope," he said. "We're looking at our alternatives right now."

Shapiro said head trainer Lonnie Soloff will provide an update on Hafner's condition and offseason plans next Monday.

"I'm not trying to skirt the issue," Shapiro said. "It [the shoulder] didn't end up exactly where we would have hoped it would end up physically."

Even if Hafner has surgery, Shapiro expects him to be fully recovered by the opening of training camp in February.

After a few minor league rehab appearances, Hafner was activated by the Indians on Sept. 9. And while he had a few good swings over the final weeks of the season, the man nicknamed "Pronk" rarely drove the ball with the same authority as he had in the past.

Hafner batted .197 with five homers and 24 RBIs in 57 games for the Indians, who were also without No. 4 hitter Victor Martinez for a long stretch and finished 81-81 one season after they came within one win of the World Series.

Hafner entered the 2008 season with a .290 career average and averaged 32 homers and 108 RBIs in the previous four seasons.