Brantley's role in ALDS could expand

Francona, Tribe hope to use LF for more than just pinch-hitting

Brantley's role in ALDS could expand

CLEVELAND -- After missing more than seven weeks over the final two months of the regular season with a right ankle ligament injury, Indians left fielder Michael Brantley was thrilled when manager Terry Francona informed him that he would be on the team's postseason roster.

Francona told Brantley that he will not be playing in the field to start the American League Division Series presented by Doosan, but the skipper said that Brantley and the Tribe's decision-makers are hopeful his role could expand beyond just pinch-hitting.

Game Date Results Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 5 CLE 4, NYY 0 Watch
Gm 2 Oct. 6 CLE 9, NYY 8 (13) Watch
Gm 3 Oct. 8 NYY 1, CLE 0 Watch
Gm 4 Oct. 9 NYY 7, CLE 3 Watch
Gm 5 Oct. 11 NYY 5, CLE 2 Watch

"We also spoke about starting the series off with him on the bench," Francona said on Wednesday. "But at some point, if he's able to do it, we'd love to put him in the field."

Brantley intensified his workouts to test his injured ankle before he was activated from the 10-day disabled list on Saturday, and has continued to do so over the past couple of days. The All-Star said that his ankle has passed every test thus far.

"I know it's one day, one time," Brantley said before Wednesday's workout. "But I tested it pretty hard the last couple of days and everything has responded well. I'm really excited about that. We'll see how it goes from there."

Although Brantley and the Tribe are encouraged by the rapid progress Brantley has made in recent weeks, Francona noted the team will still need to approach Brantley's potential promotion to left field with caution.

"We've talked about that a little bit," Francona said. "One, we're going to wait until we get through [today's] workout -- I mean, we should do that. I mean, all intents are for him to be on the roster. If something during the workout presented itself and we had to revisit it, we could."

"Can't rush it because we still have an obligation to him, too, as his health," Francona added. "He's in the middle of a good career, and you kind of have an obligation to look out for him, too."

Brantley was limited to 11 games in 2016 due to right shoulder and biceps injuries, and was forced to be a spectator when the Indians went to the 2016 World Series. He was having a stellar comeback season, but sustained an ankle injury Aug. 8 while tracking a fly ball. He returned to action as a pinch-hitter on Saturday and Sunday against the White Sox and went 1-for-3 with a single, but did not play the field. He finished the regular season batting .299 with a .357 on-base percentage.

"Any time you get hurt, you're always concerned whether you're going to get back," Brantley said. "Especially when there's a time crunch. I'm just excited that so many doctors and so many trainers have helped me to get back to this situation to be a part of this. It's very special."

William Kosileski is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.