Patience with Brantley Injury to Open Door for Others
By Mike Brandyberry
One man’s setback will become the opportunity for several.
Tuesday the Cleveland Indians announced Michael Brantley would miss approximately 10 days of game action after receiving 15 stitches from a laceration on his left forearm suffered in Monday’s game. Brantley slid head first and was cleated by Oakland Athletics’ third baseman, Josh Donaldson.
“He’ll probably be about three days where he doesn’t do anything,” Indians’ Manager Terry Francona said Tuesday. “He’ll just let the wound heal, making sure the wound is clean. Then, he’ll return to some activity with some lower body and one-arm swings.”
Francona and the Indians seem to be proceeding with caution in regards to Brantley’s injury. While it wasn’t stated, it appears that Brantley could possibly return quicker if this was a regular season situation. However, with the extra-long Spring Training this season, it allows the Indians to have the liberty to proceed with caution before returning Brantley to the lineup. Brantley received five internal stitches and 10 external.
“There’s no reason to rush this kind of thing, so it will probably be about ten days,” Francona said. “This isn’t going to be anything that’s going to alter anything.”
In the short-term, it will force Francona to alter his outfield rotations. Tim Fedroff, Ben Francisco, Ezequiel Carrera, Ryan Raburn and Jeremy Hermida should all benefit with increased playing time. Fedroff earned the start on Tuesday and played the entire game, going 0-for-3 and misplaying a ball in the left field.
Carrera is out of options and may be the leader to make the 25-man roster as a back-up outfielder. Francisco, Raburn and Hermida are non-roster spring invites looking to make the roster. Raburn hit three home runs in his first three at-bats this spring. Francisco is starting today in left field against the Seattle Mariners. Carrera is in right field, while Raburn plays second base.
“This will give us a chance to let a lot of other guys play,” Francona said.
The five outfielders may not just be showcasing their talents for the Indians, however. With injuries and roster shuffles with teams at the end of Spring Training, any of the players could use this extra time to showcase themselves. Monday Jordan Bastian of MLB.com speculated that Carrera could attract attention from the New York Yankees and other teams since he is out of minor league options. The Indians know he would not clear waivers to return to Triple-A. New York lost Curtis Granderson for 10 weeks on Sunday with a broken forearm.
Meanwhile, the injury does slow the development of the Tribe’s defensive outfield alignment with Brantley in left, Michael Bourn in center and Drew Stubbs in right. The three outfielders are all natural center fielders and need to work on communication while Stubbs and Brantley adjust to their corner positions.
Brantley will have no baseball activity for three days before beginning lower body lifting and light, one-arm swings before ramping back up toward full baseball activities. He was very durable last season, playing in 149 games, while hitting .288, with six home runs and 60 runs batted in. Brantley hit in several spots in the batting order last season, but was slotted in the fifth spot in his first two starts this spring.
In three exhibition games, Brantley was 5-for-6 at the plate, with four doubles. His swing impressed Francona already.
“I wish you could bottle where his swing is at because his first four swings were almost perfect,” Francona said. “He lined two balls to left-center. He hit four doubles and he kept everything fair and he went from left-center to the right field line.”
Photo: Jordan Bastian/MLB.com