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HAFNER SENT DOWN FOR REHAB AFTER SUFFERING BROKEN TOE

Cleveland Indians first baseman Travis Hafner joined the Buffalo Bisons on an injury rehabilitation assignment for Saturday's series opener against the Indianapolis Indians. Batting cleanup as the designated hitter, he went 0 for 3 with a walk.

Hafner has not played since suffering a broken toe May 9 at Texas. He is eligible to come off the disabled list next Sunday. Hafner is batting just .206 for the Indians with four homers and 11 RBIs and has more strikeouts (26) than hits (20). Hafner went 3 for 4 on Opening Day at Baltimore but is batting just .182 since.

Hafner, 25, was acquired from Texas in December along with reliever Aaron Myette in exchange for two former Bisons, pitcher Ryan Drese and catcher Einar Diaz. Last year at Triple-A Oklahoma, Hafner hit .342 with 21 homers and 77 RBIs.

Garcia could visit

Cleveland outfielder Karim Garcia, on the disabled list with a strained left wrist, took batting practice with the Indians on Friday night and might be the next one on the rehab express. Garcia could play two or three games for the Bisons this week.

After signing a one-year, $900,000 deal with the Indians in the offseason, Garcia has struggled. He's batting just .194 with five homers and 14 RBIs.

Garcia hit .396 with three homers and 22 RBIs in 23 games for the Herd last season after posting big numbers (.264-31-85) in 125 games for Buffalo in 2001. He hit .299 with 16 homers and 52 RBIs last year for Cleveland -- leading the majors in RBIs from Aug. 6 to the end of the season.

Burba's back

Major-league veteran Dave Burba will start today's game for Indianapolis in his third appearance with Indy since signing as a free agent. Burba opened the season with the Bisons but left the club May 3 under terms of his contract, which allowed him to leave if another organization offered him a better big-league opportunity.

Burba went 1-3 with a 2.05 ERA in four starts for Buffalo. He's 1-0, 4.50 in two outings for Indy. Buffalo lefty Brian Tallet (3-1) will oppose Burba.

Thrown for a loop

Indianapolis hit town Saturday with the International League's worst record (15-25), and first-year manager Cecil Cooper, the former Milwaukee first baseman, had choice words for his team when the Bisons were in Indy earlier this week.

Cooper said after Buffalo's 13-8 win last Sunday that a tent should be put over his team's defense because "it was a circus out there." His best tirade, however, came after Monday's 3-2 Herd win.

"Failure to execute. I'm sick of looking at it," Cooper railed. "We've got guys who want to be in the big leagues, and they can't even bunt. We're going to have bunting practice. I'm frustrated. . . . I don't know what to do. I've had second thoughts (about becoming a manager), you better believe that. I don't need this kind of aggravation."
e-mail: mharrington@buffnews.com

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