Posted on September 28, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
The Cleveland Indians may have some good news regarding injured outfielder Michael Brantley. Indians manager Terry Francona indicated that Brantley is nearing a return to the field. He may even have a shot to make it onto the roster for next week’s ALDS. Not long ago, it was doubtful that Brantley would make it back before the start of the postseason. But now things are looking more optimistic.
“Brant is working up to where, Thursday, Friday, he’s going to try to get out there,” Francona said. “And we’ll see where he’s at and see if he’s able to get in a game, and kind of go from there. Every day when he gets done, he’ll go in and check with the trainers and see how he feels.”
Brantley has been on the DL with a sprained ankle since August 9. The injury has been slow to heal, which has been frustrating for both Brantley and the Indians. But Brantley was able to run on Wednesday, giving him a glimmer of hope of returning before the postseason starts. If he progresses enough to play in a game by Saturday or Sunday, the Indians may feel be able to sneak him onto the postseason roster. When Francona got together with members of the front office recently to discuss the playoff roster, Brantley was part of the conversation.
“It was good. We met for a couple hours,” Francona said. “Again, you don’t make decisions today because we can’t, but it’s nice to be organized and to kind of let people express their opinions and knowing if A works, we can do B and C, and if it doesn’t work”
Despite missing nearly the entire 2016 season, Brantley has bounced back nicely this year. Prior to going on the DL in August, Brantley was hitting .299 with an OPS of .802. It was not quite the form he had prior to the shoulder problems that persisted last season. But it was good enough to make the all-star team this season and give the Indians a reliable everyday left fielder.
Brantley is just one of the injured Cleveland outfielders right now. Bradley Zimmer is all but ruled out for the rest of the season because of a broken hand. Brandon Guyer is dealing with a wrist injury that has kept him out for nearly two weeks. As a result of those injuries, Jason Kipnis has started to see time in center field, a position he hadn’t played since his first minor league season in 2009. The Indians are also piecing things together in left field with Austin Jackson, Lonnie Chisenhall, and others.
Obviously, there is no guarantee that Brantley returns for the postseason. In fact, the odds are still stacked against him, even if he manages to play in one or two games this weekend. However, the Indians can hold out hope that he won’t miss a second straight postseason run. When healthy, Brantley is one of their most important offensive players. With the rest of their outfield in a state of flux, the Indians will do what they can to get Brantley on the postseason roster.
“We’re trying to give him every chance possible so we can make a good decision,” Francona said. “He’ll be included in that.”