CLEVELAND -- The Indians' optimism surrounding Michael Brantley's progress has seemed genuine of late. Cleveland backed up that feeling even more on Sunday, when it announced that the left fielder is set to begin his long-awaited Minor League rehab assignment.
Brantley is scheduled to log five innings in the outfield for Class A Short-Season Mahoning Valley on Monday, according to Indians manager Terry Francona. If all goes well, Brantley would then suit up for low Class A Lake County on Wednesday before moving his rehab up to Double-A Akron next weekend.
"It gets kind of exciting that he's starting to play games," Francona said on Sunday morning. "I know sometimes you try to say things in a P.C. way -- I get it. But we are excited. ... He's so strong right now that I think we kind of thought he'd feel better fast."
Brantley (on the 60-day disabled list) underwent surgery on his right shoulder in November and has been shelved since mid-May after attempting a comeback earlier this season. A setback last month revealed biceps tendinitis in his throwing arm, which led to a cortisone shot. Since that step a few weeks ago, Brantley has made rapid progress through his hitting program.
There is still no firm timetable for his return to the Indians.
• Francona believes that the All-Star break is coming at a great time for catcher Yan Gomes, who headed into Sunday's game against the Yankees 1-for-26 in July. Cleveland's starting catcher had a .168/.200/.319 slash line in 67 games (238 at-bats) through Saturday.
"His confidence probably isn't there right now at the plate," Francona said. " ... He's had a tough time. I think the break, of all people, would be really good for him. You can tell he's wearing it a little bit. I'm sure, because you're the catcher, you're already getting beat up and you're tired. I think this will be really good for him."
• Backup catcher Roberto Perez (on the 60-day DL due to a right thumb injury) has gone 3-for-8 with four walks through five Minor League rehab games with the Rookie-level Arizona Indians. With Perez out, Chris Gimenez has performed admirably as the Tribe's backup to Gomes.
"Roberto's probably a couple weeks away," Francona said. "A lot happens in two weeks. I think what will be nice is to get Roberto healthy, and then, if there are tough decisions, good -- because I think we'd rather have tough decisions than be put in a place where you're scrambling for players."
Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. 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.