Brantley in lineup, but keeping tabs on back

Discomfort not considered serious issue after outfielder has MRI

Brantley in lineup, but keeping tabs on back

CLEVELAND -- Michael Brantley's 2015 season got off to a rocky start, with a lower back issue that sprang up early in Spring Training lingering enough to keep him out of the lineup for two of the Indians' first three games in Houston. But Brantley was back in his customary No. 3 spot of Terry Francona's batting order for Friday's home opener against the Tigers.

Brantley had an MRI exam on Friday and reported only that "everything looks good," but his situation will merit monitoring.

"We'll keep an eye on him," Francona said. "If he needs a day off or something, we can certainly do that. But we don't ever want to turn something that could be a day or two into two weeks. But it's nice having him in the lineup, that's for sure."

Brantley finished third in the American League MVP Award voting last season, so any ailment affecting him this early in the season is going to qualify as worrisome. But both he and Francona downplayed the severity of the issue.

"I have some lower back discomfort," Brantley said. "It's something we have to work through. We have a great medical staff that's going to get me through it, and I'll be just fine. ... I'll do whatever I have to do to make sure I stay on that field every day."

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.