Brantley appears to be making up time in rehab

Progression from shoulder surgery raises hopes

Brantley appears to be making up time in rehab

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Indians are still not sure when Michael Brantley will cross the finish line in his comeback from offseason shoulder surgery. The early signs in camp, though, are that the left fielder might not be sidelined as long as initially thought.

"He's coming quickly," Indians manager Terry Francona said on Sunday afternoon. "He's put so much time into this. He's been so diligent. Now, you can't rush what you can't rush."

Francona indicated that Brantley has advanced to hitting off a tee, following a few sessions of swinging a bat with no contact over the past week. The team's medical and training staff has been integrating light hitting activities into Brantley's rehab program based on how he feels each day. The left fielder took a break on Sunday, using the team's report date for position players as a rest day.

Brantley underwent surgery on his right shoulder in November and the Indians have maintained that he could miss at least a portion of April, potentially longer.

"The progression will just continue every time he hits a milestone," Francona said. "Then, he'll progress to the next thing. The idea is kind of common sense. You're just trying to build up intensity and volume, but probably not both on the same day."

Worth noting

• The Indians will be looking at a long list of outfielders, including 24-year-old Tyler Naquin. The young outfielder was Cleveland's first-round pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft and was rated as the Tribe's fifth-best prospect on the most recent Top 30 Prospects by MLBPipeline.com.

"Naquin is a guy who has put himself [on our radar]," Francona said. "He's had a lot of injuries that have cut into his development, but he's healthy and he's at a point where the way he plays can determine maybe where he ends up playing."

• Outfielders Joey Butler and Collin Cowgill -- both added over the offseason -- went through their first workout with the Indians on Sunday. Position players were required to report to Arizona on Sunday and will undergo physicals and meet with Francona individually on Monday. The Indians' first full-squad workout is slated for Tuesday.

• Francona has noted that lefty Joe Thatcher is coming back from an ankle issue, but the reliever is still able to throw off a mound. Thatcher, who signed with the Indians over the winter, is one of a handful of non-roster invitees fighting for a spot in the bullpen.

• Former slugger Jason Giambi was scheduled to land in Arizona on Sunday night before joining the Indians for a handful of days as a guest instructor, beginning on Monday. Giambi suited up for the Tribe during the 2013-14 seasons.

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.