Francona encouraged by Brantley's progress

Francona encouraged by Brantley's progress

MINNEAPOLIS -- Michael Brantley took a day off from playing in games on Thursday, but that did not stop the Indians left fielder from taking another encouraging step forward.

"I think today was his best day," Indians manager Terry Francona said during Thursday's workout at Target Field, "because he felt really good and it was after playing."

As Brantley continues to work on coming back from the right shoulder issue that has plagued him this season, how he recovers from playing is arguably more important that how he fares on the field. While the Indians headed to Minneapolis on Thursday, Brantley went through a workout back in Cleveland one day after playing for Class A Lake County.

Brantley, who is on the 60-day disabled list, went 2-for-3 with a double for Lake County on Wednesday, following a 1-for-2 showing with a walk in his Minor League rehab debut with Class A Mahoning Valley on Monday. The next step for Brantley is a game with Double-A Akron on Friday and, barring any setbacks, he should have consecutive games in the near future.

Francona said the timing of the back-to-back games is to be determined.

"Every time he makes a step forward, it's good," Francona said. "Depending on how the next couple days go, he's probably going to have a back-to-back here pretty soon. I think some of it depends on maybe how much he swings. I think the trainers want to have a chance to talk to him [before making the schedule]."

Brantley underwent surgery on his right shoulder in November and appeared in 11 games for Cleveland before being shelved again on May 14. He has made rapid progress in recent weeks after lingering discomfort was discovered to be from biceps tendinitis -- unrelated to the shoulder surgery. There is still no clear timetable for his return to the Indians, but Francona said the team wants to be sure he can handle regular playing time.

"When he comes back, we want him to be prepared to play multiple days in a row," Francona said. "And he feels strongly about that, too. So, that means you've got to do that in the Minor Leagues first."

Other items of note from Thursday's workout

• Backup catcher Roberto Perez (60-day disabled list with right thumb injury) has gone 3-for-11 with six walks through seven Minor League rehab games. Perez played for Lake County on Wednesday and moved his rehab up to Triple-A Columbus on Thursday. There is still no firm timetable for his return to Cleveland.

"'Berto is doing well," Francona said. "He just has normal soreness, body soreness, from not catching as much -- game activity -- but he's doing really well."

• Right-hander Danny Salazar, who was scratched from participating in Tuesday's All-Star Game presented by MasterCard due to mild elbow discomfort, threw during Thursday's workout. Salazar remains on target to make his first start of the second half on Tuesday in Kansas City.

• Francona gave shortstop Francisco Lindor and pitcher Corey Kluber -- both returning from the All-Star Game in San Diego -- permission to skip Thursday's workout. Both players chose to attend the optional practice at Target Field anyway.

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.