CLEVELAND -- Indians manager Terry Francona has described Michael Brantley as the heart and soul of his team. On Tuesday, Francona got to inform the veteran outfielder that he would be included on the roster for the American League Division Series presented by Doosan, following Brantley's comeback from an ankle injury.
That news was welcomed around the Tribe's clubhouse.
"Everybody knows what kind of a player he is and what kind of leader he is," reliever Joe Smith said. "Just having him back, with what he went through last year and not being able to play in these games, I know it hurt him. I'm excited for him. I know he's ready to go and pumped up."
A year ago, Brantley's right shoulder and biceps problems -- injuries that limited him to 11 games during the season -- kept Brantley sidelined for the Indians' run to the World Series. This time around, Brantley sustained a right ankle ligament injury Aug. 8, returning Saturday as a pinch-hitter. Francona noted the left fielder would start off as a pinch-hitter during the ALDS vs. the Yankees.
"I have a lot of confidence in my ability," Brantley said. "We have a great group of guys in this locker room that keep me positive and push for me. I worked really hard to get back. I was working on my swing the whole time. There's always going to be a bit of an adjustment period, but I feel like I can handle it."
Joining Brantley among the Indians outfielders for the ALDS will be Jay Bruce (right field), Jason Kipnis (center), Greg Allen (center), Lonnie Chisenhall (all three spots) and Austin Jackson (left and center). Francona noted that Brandon Guyer (left wrist injury) is unlikely to be recovered in time for the AL Championship Series presented by Camping World or World Series presented by YouTube TV, if the Tribe was to advance that far.
• Francona said third baseman Giovanny Urshela and utility man Erik Gonzalez will make the ALDS roster, but third baseman Yandy Diaz will not make the cut. Francona said the plus defense of both Urshela and Gonzalez -- players who can handle all four infield spots -- helps create scenarios to use Brantley as a pinch-hitter.
• Rookie center fielder Bradley Zimmer (fractured bone in left hand) will remain with the team to receive treatment and might be cleared to swing a bat in the near future, per Francona. The skipper quickly added that, "It will be a very long shot of him playing again this year. But, we've had longshots."
• Francona noted rookie catcher Francisco Mejia will head to Arizona to work out with his Arizona Fall League team, balancing his time between third base and behind the plate. Mejia will be on call in the event that Major League catchers Roberto Perez or Yan Gomes become unavailable.
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.