Brantley not likely to meet Opening Day goal

Brantley not likely to meet Opening Day goal

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Indians headed into Spring Training knowing that it was unlikely that left fielder Michael Brantley would be ready in time for Opening Day. Brantley did his best to target the Tribe's season opener, but a recent setback will likely delay his comeback.

On Saturday morning, Indians manager Terry Francona noted that Brantley was scheduled to have a followup exam with Dr. Mark Schickendantz for the outfielder's right shoulder, which was surgically repaired in November. Brantley will be held out of Major League games over the next week, making a stint on the disabled list to open the season a realistic scenario.

"I think it was healthy for him to shoot for [Opening Day]," Francona said. "Anytime you have a goal, I think it's good. I hope he's not disappointed. I think maybe he understands probably better than anybody here what he means to this team. But, there's not one ounce of disappointment in me. I'm proud of him, man.

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"He busted his [tail] and he'll continue to do that. It might be a week later. It might be 10 days. He's going to be just fine. We've just got to do it right. It was easy to do it right, because of our trust with him and his honesty with us."

With Brantley likely out of the Opening Day fold, Cleveland may look to carry five outfielders. Rajai Davis, who can play left and center field, is a lock for the roster, along with center fielder Tyler Naquin and right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall. Collin Cowgill, Will Venable, Marlon Byrd and Robbie Grossman are among the other candidates for outfield roles. Utility man Jose Ramirez can offer a backup option for the outfielder, too.

Brantley made rapid progress with his rehab through the early portion of Spring Training and made his Cactus League debut on March 19, going 1-for-3 with a home run. The Tribe's left fielder had three more plate appearances in Monday's game against the White Sox, but he has been held out of Cactus League play since that contest.

Francona noted that Brantley's shoulder did not respond as well as hoped, leading the club to reduce his activity over the past few days.

"He's going to talk to Schick again today and try to plan maybe a little course of action here," Francona said on Saturday morning. "He had a pretty good day in the training room getting loose, a better day than he had yesterday. We'll kind of wait and see what they say moving forward.

"I don't think you're going to see him playing in a Major League game this week, that's for sure. But, how we go about the next two, three, four days, I think we'll have a better idea, maybe [after the meeting with the doctor]."

Brantley said it was important to be up front with the team about how he was feeling.

"I just had some soreness after I played that last game," Brantley said. "I told myself and I told the medical staff that I was going to be honest, and I wouldn't come back unless I'm 100 percent. So, I'm just kind of listening to my body and taking it day by day, understanding that it's a different atmosphere in a game-like situation, and I've got to recover faster when I come back from games."

While Opening Day is seemingly out of the picture, Brantley said he will do everything he can to return as soon as possible.

"It's frustrating, because I won't be with my teammates, absolutely," Brantley said. "Any game that they're playing and I'm not, I'm going to be even more eager to get back there. ... I don't want to come back where I'm limited, or I can only play a couple games and need a day off, or anything like that. I want to come back and be ready to go."

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.