MINNESOTA -- Michael Brantley has been piecing together a solid season for the Indians, all while battling an assortment of minor health woes. The latest issue is inflammation in his left shoulder, and the team is hoping a handful of days off will do Brantley good for the final six-plus weeks of the season.
The Indians had Brantley remain in Cleveland on Friday in order to undergo an MRI exam, which showed nothing more than an inflamed shoulder, according to manager Terry Francona. Brantley received a cortisone shot in his sore arm and is expected to miss at least two or three games.
"He's been playing through a lot," Francona said. "Hopefully, when something like this happens, maybe a couple days down helps the rest of his body, because he's found a way to be still so productive and so good, but I know it's probably been hard for him at times. He doesn't say anything. He doesn't like saying anything about it, nor is he going to. Maybe this will help him a little bit.
"It's hard to not have him for a couple or three days, but it's a heck of a lot better than not having him for a couple or three months."
Through 103 games this season, Brantley has hit .312 with eight home runs, 35 doubles, 63 RBIs, 48 runs and 12 stolen bases for the Indians. The outfielder has missed time at various points this season due to a persistent back issue that dates back to the first few weeks of Spring Training. Francona said Brantley's throwing shoulder has been bothering him some lately, but intensified on Thursday.
"Last night after the game it was pretty hot," Francona said on Friday. "So, after talking to him, he got it looked at. He wasn't going to play tonight, because we just wanted to let it cool off. And then we thought, 'You know what? If he's not going to play tonight, let's get it looked at. That seemed to make sense."
• Over the past 11 games, Francona has started Chris Johnson at first base five times and Jerry Sands at the position three times. Carlos Santana, who has been Cleveland's main first baseman this year, has been the designated hitter in eight of the past 11 games. Francona knows that Santana does not like working only as a DH, but feels using him mainly in that role is best for the team right now.
"I don't think he does [like to DH]," Francona said, "but my point to him has kind of been, 'You have to be our best first baseman.' That's kind of a fine line there, where you want your guys to be happy, but you have to put your best team on the field. We've tried to talk to him about that."
• Second baseman Jason Kipnis (15-day disabled list with a right shoulder injury) played catch up to a distance of 100 feet on Friday. Francona said Kipnis will soon begin simulating game-scenario throwing drills. Barring any setbacks, the All-Star could be activated during the upcoming series in Boston (Monday-Wednesday).
• Veteran utility man Ryan Raburn is scheduled to rejoin the Indians in time for Saturday's game in Minnesota. Raburn was placed on Major League Baseball's bereavement list on Tuesday. Zach Walters was called up from Triple-A Columbus while Raburn has been away from the club.
• Class A Advanced Lynchburg outfielder Luigi Rodriguez received an 80-game suspension (effective immediately) from MLB on Friday for testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance (Stanozolol). The 22-year-old Rodriguez is ranked 22nd on MLBpipeline.com's Top 30 Indians prospects list. In 92 games this year, he hit .293 with 12 homers, 22 doubles, eight triples, 49 RBIs, 59 runs and 24 stolen bases for the Hillcats.
"We were disappointed to learn of Luigi's positive test," Indians general manager Chris Antonetti said in an e-mail, "and the resulting suspension for violating Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. We fully support Major League Baseball's policies, programs, and penalties designed to eliminate performance enhancing substances from our game."