Brantley's hard work pays off with OD gig

Brantley's hard work pays off with OD gig

ARLINGTON -- For the first time in two years, manager Terry Francona was able to write left fielder Michael Brantley's name into his Opening Day lineup. That was a special moment for Francona, given how hard Brantley worked to reach this point.

"What's even more exciting is this isn't the end," Francona said on Monday. "This is the beginning, and because of a lot of hard work. ... He's been a star. He had to be a star in the training room, so he was. He made so many sacrifices to get himself in this position.

"It's nice when you write him in your lineup. It's nice to have him on your side."

For Cleveland's Opening Day game against the Rangers, Brantley was back in his customary spots: left field, third in the batting order. He was in the same positions for the opener in 2015, but injuries derailed his '16 season. He underwent surgery on his right shoulder in November 2015, then had surgery on his right biceps last August.

After a strong showing this spring, Brantley was cleared to begin the season with the Indians.

"I did not set any expectations or any goals," Brantley said. "I just knew I wanted to challenge myself every day in whatever that challenge was going to be. It's a great job by my trainers and doctors and everybody just getting to this point. I'm going to try to enjoy it as much as I can."

Worth noting

• Center fielder Tyler Naquin dealt with patellar tendinitis during Spring Training, but Francona said he is good to go. Said Francona: "There may be a day or two we've got to keep an eye on him if it kicks up. But he's a tough kid, and he was moving around fine."

• Right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall (on the 10-day disabled list with a right shoulder issue) is scheduled to take part in batting practice while the team is in Texas. If everything goes according to plan, he might begin a Minor League rehab assignment by the end of this week.

• U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman, along with U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, all of whom represent Ohio, have introduced a bill that calls for former Indians outfielder Larry Doby to earn a Congressional Gold Medal. Doby broke the American League color barrier in 1947.

• For the home opener on April 11, Indians great Jim Thome, Cavs great Austin Carr and Browns great Jim Brown will throw out ceremonial first pitches as part of the "Rally Together" theme. The Cleveland Orchestra string section will perform the national anthem.

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.