CLEVELAND -- The Indians returned from a 10-game road trip and were able to finally see outfielder Michael Brantley in person. Before the start of a six-game homestand, manager Terry Francona said Brantley is progressing in his recovery from right shoulder inflammation, but has not yet cleared to advance past the soft-toss stage.
"He's continuing to plug away and just grind through it," Francona said before Friday's 3-2 win over the White Sox. "He's still at the phase where he's soft-tossing in the cage. The medical team is not yet ready to allow him to advance past that, so that's what he's been doing and he continues to bump up the intensity and the volume, but he's still at that stage."
Brantley was placed on the 15-day disabled list May 14. Despite missing their best hitter, the Tribe sit atop the American League Central.
"I'm disappointed for him," Francona said. "He did everything in his power to be accountable because he's so good at that -- understanding his importance to our team and everything, but it happens to every team. Every team has injuries and you either use that as an excuse or you try to figure out a way to win despite that. It makes it harder, but it shouldn't stop us from winning. It probably makes your wiggle room for mistakes a little bit less."
Brantley opened the season on the DL due to his shoulder issues. When he returned April 25, he played 11 games and hit .231 (9-for-39) with a pair of doubles, seven RBIs and six strikeouts. His last game was May 9.
"I've got to stay confident," Brantley said. "You've got to trust in what you're doing, trust in the training staff and the doctors. I want to come back to the field as soon as possible, but I want to stay as healthy as possible as well."
Tribe catcher Roberto Perez is in Cleveland for the weekend to get an evaluation. He has been running and began throwing Thursday. He was placed on the 60-day DL on May 6 after undergoing surgery to repair his right thumb. Francona said that Perez is ahead of schedule.
"He's going to be OK. I think, if anything, he's probably ahead of schedule," Francona said. "Missing guys is hard, but this is going to be good for him because when he comes back, that thumb's going to be intact. It's going to be strong and he's not going to be, for the next five, six, 10 years, having to tape it up and things like that. It'll be stable and he'll be ready to go."
Shane Jackson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.