For a few years between 2004 and 2006, Travis Hafner was one of the most feared hitters in the American League. They were the only three years in his career in which he hit over .300 in a season, and he averaged 34 home runs and 111 RBI. Over the last two seasons, however, Pronk has been relatively useless to the Cleveland Indians.
Shoulder problems this season caused Hafner to spend the overwhelming majority of the season on the disabled list, and in the 57 games he did manage to play, he hit .197 with five homers and 24 runs driven in. Now, even after rehabbing the shoulder for a season, it looks like he's going to need surgery on it.
Indians general manager Mark Shapiro indicated Tuesday that Hafner could be headed for offseason surgery on the injured right shoulder that caused him to miss most of the 2008 season.
"Travis had an end-of-the-year physical and the strength in his shoulder was not what we'd hoped it would be. That's a little disappointing," said Shapiro. "The progress was not as great as we'd hoped to have seen. So right now, we're examining our alternatives with him."
Shapiro also says that should Hafner have the surgery, he has no doubt that Pronk will be 100% healthy come spring training. I'm not as confident in Hafner's health. I don't want to make accusations without concrete proof, but let's just say I don't think it's a coincidence that Hafner's slide in both numbers and health occurred after MLB and Congress started cracking down on steroids and HGH.
Besides, I don't think the Indians need Hafner anyway. The team actually performed pretty well during the second half of the season, and if they add a starting pitcher to their rotation this offseason and get some bullpen help, they'll be right back fighting for the AL Central next season. With or without Hafner.