On Hafner

Last night, manager Eric Wedge gave Travis Hafner a night off. The reason given was fairly understandable: Hafner had played in both halves of a doubleheader, and manager Eric Wedge wanted to rest Hafner in order to keep his elbow in check. So of course, when the Indians lost by a run, Jim Ingraham ripped Wedge for not playing Hafner:

It was a curious decision, given that the designated hitter is not, by definition, a physically demanding role, given that he gets to rest every time his team is in the field. Adding to the intrigue was that Maroth is a left-hander, and Hafner has the third highest batting average against left-handed pitchers (.289) of any player on the Indians’ roster.

Apparently Ingraham forgot that when you swing a bat, you put a lot of stress on your elbow. And he also failed to mention that Hafner is hitting .324 against right-handers, also the best on the team. But that’s beside the point; keeping Hafner healthy for the rest of the season is the important thing here. Because the Indians were short-handed on Monday, Hafner played both halves of the doubleheader. So because Aaron Boone was available on Tuesday, Wedge gave Hafner the night off last night. That’s what this boils down to; it isn’t difficult to figure out.

Now if Ingraham had complained as to how Wedge used his bench late in the game, I could have understood this article, but he seems to concentrate solely on Hafner’s absence from the starting lineup. Just because Hafner is swinging the bat doesn’t mean that he should be playing every day especially given his elbow problem. As a rule, you try to keep your best players healthy; this is why the starting pitchers are taken out after a certain number of pitches, and relievers aren’t used more than 3 days in a row.

Now if Hafner was sitting because a left-hander was on the mound, it would be one thing. But apparently, a manager thinking of the long-term health of his player is idiotic.

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