Brantley could begin BP on field by weekend

Brantley could begin BP on field by weekend

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Michael Brantley continues to check off positive milestones in his march toward a return to the Indians' lineup.

On Monday morning, manager Terry Francona noted that Brantley's scheduled checkup with Dr. Craig Morgan on Sunday went as well as Cleveland could have hoped. Morgan, who performed the left fielder's right shoulder surgery in November, cleared Brantley to continue his hitting progression, which could include batting practice on the field by this weekend.

"It was all according to plan, which is all good," Francona said. "There's no red flags, nothing. He just got a really good report."

There is still no clear timetable for Brantley to make his Cactus League debut, and the expectation remains that the left fielder's comeback could linger into early April.

Francona indicated that the Indians discussed having Brantley play the outfield (with no at-bats) in Monday's "B" game against the Reds, but the outfielder preferred to stick with his morning workout. The manager said the team was fine with that approach, considering how diligent Brantley has been with his rehab, defense and batting cage work each day.

"He's worked really hard in the mornings," Francona said. "I had talked to him about, 'Hey, when you come back, we don't want you to be slowed down, because your legs are sore or something.' So he's worked really hard to make sure that won't happen."

MLB Tonight: Michael Brantley

Other items of note from Monday morning:

• Right-hander Shawn Armstrong struck out two in one shutout inning of relief against the Reds on Thursday, but it is not clear when the reliever will make his next appearance. Francona noted that Armstrong is currently dealing with right lat tightness, though the issue is not considered serious.

"Last year at this time, he had a little bit of lat tightness," Francona said. "He ran into the same thing the other day. He ended up finishing the inning, but it's Spring Training. I'm not sure we're real big on somebody trying to throw through that. We can eliminate that very easily, so we'll probably bump him back a couple days."

• Right-hander Zach McAllister, who was sent home with flu-like symptoms on Sunday, was still dealing with the issue on Monday. Francona said McAllister was scheduled to be examined at the complex, but the pitcher was instructed to stay home and rest for the remainder of the day.

"He's lost a bunch of weight," Francona said. "Hopefully he doesn't spread it. And then we'll figure out when he can pop back in there, but he's going to have to get some strength back."

• Veteran third baseman Juan Uribe served as the designated hitter in a "B" game on Monday morning against the Reds on the eve of his planned Cactus League debut, going 1-for-4 with a sun-assisted single. Francona said that Uribe is slated to be the designated hitter against the Mariners in Tuesday's home game "if everything goes OK" with Monday's game.

• Up to this point, Francona has given his position players starts in Cactus League games on alternating days. The manager said this week he will begin playing some of his regulars in consecutive games as the team continues to build towards Opening Day.

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.