MLB.com Columnist

Jonathan Mayo

Brantley encouraged after latest rehab outing

Outfielder bounces back well after off-day, but return date unknown

Brantley encouraged after latest rehab outing

AKRON, Ohio -- It may have been a step down in level, but it was another step toward returning to Cleveland for outfielder Michael Brantley.

After picking up two at-bats on Tuesday with Triple-A Columbus, Brantley headed to Double-A Akron on Thursday for another rehab start as he continues to work his way back from labrum surgery in his non-throwing shoulder.

"The shoulder bounced back very well," Brantley said about coming back from his first game action on Tuesday and playing again two days later. "It was a great day the next day. It was a lighter day, but I still got my work in and I played today. It was good to be back out there. It was another day closer to getting back to the big leagues."

The former All-Star went 1-for-2 for the RubberDucks, grounding out to first in his first at-bat then picking up Akron's first hit of the game with a single to right-center in the fourth inning. He came out of the game after the fifth inning, replaced in the lineup and in left field by Bryson Myles.

"It was a good swing," Brantley said of his single. "I felt so early and so quick after not seeing any pitches for a while. To have a couple of hits already and hit a couple of balls hard, I'm excited about it."

Brantley had begun his return during Spring Training, appearing in two Cactus League games on March 19 and 21. But soreness in his shoulder following those games forced the Indians to shut him down for a week and made Brantley start his hitting program over again. The fact that he feels good after the same game/off-day/game schedule has him optimistic.

"You never know how you're going to bounce back, especially after playing a game," Brantley said. "The way I feel right now, I'm very excited where I am and how well my shoulder is responding."

It's unclear what's next for Brantley on the rehab trail or whether he'll need to pass the test of playing on consecutive days before he's declared ready to return to the Indians' outfield.

"I haven't really been told too much," Brantley said. "I'll know more information [Friday]. I work out in Cleveland [on Friday]."

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.