ANAHEIM -- Michael Brantley already beat the odds to return to the field in time for Opening Day. Now the All-Star left fielder will have to pull off another improbable comeback if he's going to help the Indians in the postseason.
On Wednesday, the Indians announced that Brantley sought a second opinion from foot and ankle specialist Dr. Thomas Clanton on Tuesday in Vail, Colo., and it was confirmed that the outfielder is dealing with a deltoid ligament sprain, along with right ankle synovitis. Brantley has been shut down from running for another week to 10 days, then he will be re-evaluated to determine his readiness.
"He's the heart and soul of our team, even when he's not playing," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "That's how much he's respected in the clubhouse and from the staff. That's why, one, we want to look out for him and, two, we care about him. That's why we just try to follow the doctor's orders and just do the best we can."
Including Wednesday night's game against the Angels, the American League Central-champion Indians have only 11 games remaining in the regular season, and they are currently lined up to begin their AL Division Series on Oct. 5. That is a little more than two weeks away, meaning Brantley is unlikely to be part of the playoff picture for Cleveland until at least the AL Championship Series, if the Tribe advances to that round.
"I just don't feel like it's even appropriate to say that right now," said Francona, referring to speculating about Brantley's timetable for return. "The guy's trying his best to do whatever he can, so let's just see how he does."
Brantley, who was limited to only 11 games last season due to right biceps and shoulder injuries, sustained what the Indians initially described as a right ankle sprain on Aug. 8 at home against the Rockies. Brantley pulled up while pursuing a fly ball to center, and he immediately sat down in the grass, fearing that he had injured his Achilles' tendon. That injury was ruled out, but the outfielder's recovery has taken longer than anticipated.
In what began as a promising comeback campaign for Brantley, he has hit .299/.358/.445 in 88 games while serving as the Tribe's primary left fielder and No. 3 hitter. Brantley's performance in the first half netted him his second AL All-Star selection. He has nine home runs, 20 doubles, 52 RBIs and 47 runs scored.
Brantley had advanced to running in an AlterG (anti-gravity) treadmill, which reduces stress on the legs, but showed minimal improvement. He was wearing a walking boot again during the last homestand and expressed interest in seeking the second opinion on the injury.
"[We'll] let him have another week-ish, and then when he gets out of that [boot], try to ramp up and see how it feels," Francona said. "I think there's a feeling that maybe this will do it and he'll feel good. We'll see. As long as Michael keeps trying, we certainly are going to also [keep trying]."
Encarnacion nets attendance bonus
For the first time since 2008, the Indians have surpassed 2 million in attendance, which means slugger Edwin Encarnacion is in line for a unique bonus. In each year of Encarnacion's contract, he will earn $150,000 when the Indians' home attendance reaches 2 million, 2.15 million, 2.3 million, 2.5 million and 2.75 million. There is a $250,000 bonus for hitting 3 million in attendance.
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 Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.