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Michael Brantley updates, Jan./Feb./March 2017


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January 27th, 2017

CLEVELAND -- Michael Brantley knows better than to declare Opening Day as his target date for return. After what the Indians left fielder went through last season, he will keep his goals quiet, focusing more on the daily milestones that will hopefully bring his aspirations to fruition.


On Friday, when a large portion of the Indians' roster was in Cleveland on the eve of Tribe Fest, Brantley spoke with reporters for the first time since the postseason. Brantley is currently hitting off a tee in his comeback from shoulder and biceps issues, and he is hopeful that he will be at the same stage as the rest of the Tribe's batters when position players report to Spring Training in roughly two weeks.


Opening Day is indeed the goal -- the Indians have made that known -- but Brantley has learned to avoid artificial deadlines.


"I won't say a target," Brantley said. "All I know is I'm healthy right now and I've got a progression to go through. Once I get through that, I'll be ready to rock and roll."


Brantley underwent biceps tenodesis surgery on Aug. 15 and has progressed to the point where he is working through multiple tee sessions each day. Assistant hitting coach Matt Quatraro described Brantley's swings as "encouraging" after monitoring some of the workouts this week. A year ago, when Brantley was coming back from right shoulder surgery, the outfielder did not resume hitting off a tee until around Feb. 21.


While Brantley is roughly a month off last year's pace, the Indians have taken a cautiously optimistic approach to questions about his comeback. Part of the reason is that Brantley breezed through the early portion of a hitting progression multiple times last year. It was not until he appeared in multiple games in a row that the arm issue flared and stalled his progress......CONTINUED. .......



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  • 4 weeks later...

Cleveland Indians OF Michael Brantley not close to being ready to play


By The Sports Xchange | Feb. 17, 2017 at 3:00 AM


Cleveland Indians outfielder Michael Brantley isn't close to being ready to play in spring training games and his availability for the start of the regular season is also in jeopardy, according to manager Terry Francona.


Brantley is recovering from surgery to repair a torn right biceps. He played in just 11 games last season due to a shoulder injury and underwent the biceps surgery in August.


The Indians advanced to the World Series without Brantley, who finished third in the American League MVP balloting in 2014.


"He's following the protocols the medical people put in place," Francona told reporters. "By all accounts, he's doing everything. This kid has worked his (tail) off. We just need to be patient and allow him to try to get to the point where he can not only come back, but stay back.


"After not having him for a whole year, he deserves to do it right. He's worked so hard, and to have him back will be so nice. We're going to do it right so he can have his best chance to be successful."


Francona doesn't have a timetable for when the 29-year-old Brantley will start playing in spring-training games.


"I don't think that's fair to him," Francona said. "We all see how hard he's working. I think we're just going to go off of him. As he gets things accomplished with the proper amount of intensity, he'll move on to something else. I think that's the timetable we need to abide by."


Brantley has a .292 career average with 61 homers and 400 RBIs in eight seasons with the Indians. He batted. 327 with 20 homers and 97 RBIs during his All-Star season of 2014 and batted .310 with 15 homers and 84 RBIs in 2015 before his injury plagued season of last year.

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  • 4 weeks later...

March 15th, 2017

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Indians have done their best to simulate a game environment for Michael Brantley throughout the left fielder's comeback this spring. On Wednesday afternoon, Jason Kipnis helped out, adding some heckling from behind the backstop on Field 1 at Cleveland's complex.


As Brantley stepped to the plate for the second of three at-bats in his Minor League game debut, Kipnis began booing his friend and teammate loudly. Brantley ignored Kipnis' taunts and slashed a pitch off the wall in left field for a two-run double.


"It just made me laugh," Brantley said with a smile. "I'll take all the cheers and boos I can get. It happens in the season, right?"


There is growing optimism about Brantley's health, both in terms of how his swing had looked this spring and in how the outfielder has been acting behind the scenes. That optimism remains guarded, however, because the Indians have been down this road before. Brantley has hit every milestone to date in his comeback from August surgery on his right biceps, but there remains no announced target date for his official return.


One year ago, Brantley was attempting to ramp up for Opening Day, following surgery on his right shoulder in November 2015. He made his Minor League game debut on March 17 last spring and then made his Cactus League debut on March 19. In that game, Brantley homered and had an outfield assist, making it look like he was back to form.


The rest of Brantley's turbulent 2016 campaign is well-documented. He appeared in only 11 games for the Indians, encountered multiple setbacks, met with an array of medical specialists and eventually underwent biceps tenodesis surgery on Aug. 15, ending his season.


That is why -- this time around -- Cleveland is not giving Brantley any target dates. No one within the Indians will speculate publicly about whether Opening Day is realistic for the outfielder.......

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