Brantley still progressing, hopeful in comeback

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- In 2014, Michael Brantley's last full season playing with the Cleveland Indians, he finished third in the AL MVP voting. Over the last two years he's battled injuries stemming from a dive for a fly ball in Minnesota, Sept. 22, 2015 only playing in 11 games last season. 

So what is Brantley's mindset going into the 2017 season?

"Get back and stay back," Indians manager Terry Francona said.

Brantley met with reporters on Tuesday at the club's player development complex and conveyed a message of hope, while also understanding his recovery from the shoulder injury, which then led to bicep tendinitis is something that will take some time.

Brantley echoed Francona's sentiments and said he can only go day-by-day and how he feels at this point.

"I don't want to look too far ahead. Every Monday’s a new week. I keep progressing and everything’s going well right now," Brantley said. "I’m excited with where I’m at. I know I said it last year. I’m stronger than I was last year. A lot of things are looking positive."

Francona has already announced that Brantley is a bit behind his teammates and will not play in the club's first several Cactus League exhibition games, but the 2014 All-Star outfielder did not rule out a return by Opening Day, April 3 in Texas.

The Indians held a full squad workout Tuesday at the club's player development complex. Francona also told reporters that as things stand right now, only three players - Erik Gonzalez, Michael Martinez and Ronny Rodriguez - are competing for the Indians final utility position. However, if Brantley opens the season on the disabled list, that could also open the door for an extra outfielder or two. Abraham Almonte is certainly an extra outfielder candidate, along with non-roster invitee veteran outfielder Austin Jackson. 

The Tribe opens their Cactus League exhibition schedule on Saturday, Feb. 25 at Goodyear Ballpark when they host the Cincinnati Reds. Fans can listen to the game on Newsradio WTAM 1100 with a first pitch time of 3:05 pm ET.

- Nick Camino

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