Brantley on bench to rest stiff back

Francona wants to take cautious approach with All-Star outfielder

Brantley on bench to rest stiff back

CLEVELAND -- Indians manager Terry Francona would rather be without All-Star Michael Brantley for one game than risk having the outfielder miss a considerable amount of time. That is why Francona has tried to find spots to rest Brantley as he deals with an ongoing back issue.

With an off-day looming on Monday, Francona felt it made sense to keep Brantley on the bench for Sunday's game against the Orioles. That would give the left fielder a chance to rest his back for two days before potentially returning to the lineup.

"I think, as hard as it is for him to not play today," Francona said, "how about if we lost him for a week or two weeks? So, I talked to him about it. He's never in favor of it, which I absolutely love. But, I think this will really help him. We've tried to give him some rest here and there.

"I think two days off in a row will really do him some good. We need him so bad."

Brantley, who was batting .229 with a .617 OPS in his past 18 games heading into Sunday, played left field on Saturday after serving as the designated hitter in the previous two games. On the season, he is batting .302 with four home runs and 33 RBIs in 47 games, while playing through back stiffness that first flared in Spring Training.

Worth noting

• Indians right-hander Josh Tomlin (on the 60-day disabled list following right shoulder surgery on April 8) is in Cleveland to have a follow-up with the team's medical staff this week. Tomlin is currently throwing long toss and could be cleared to resume throwing off a mound soon.

Tomlin, who usually sports long curly hair, also arrived to the ballpark on Sunday with a shaved head.

"The update is he's ugly. He looks terrible," Francona quipped. "He's doing fantastic. I got a chance to visit with him this morning. He's [throwing] out to 150 feet and doing well."

• Right-handed reliever Scott Atchison, who is on the 15-day disabled list due to a sprained left ankle, was scheduled to throw off the mound in a bullpen session on Sunday. Barring any setbacks, Francona said Atchison might pitch for Double-A Akron in a rehab assignment on Wednesday.

Quote to note

"I hope. I don't pretend that I grew up here, but I've been here long enough to care and I would love to see it. I think it'd be wonderful. I hope we're home when it happens so I could go. What do you think that'd look like? A 56-year-old bald man with a big nose, jumping up and down with a LeBron jersey on?" -- Francona, asked what it'd be like if the Cavs won the NBA Finals

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.