now let's get into the most current news, day by day, as it was unveiled.
January 25: Chris Antonetti, Indians President of Baseball Operations, did an interview with Christopher Russo on MLB Network's High Heat. Antonetti said that Michael was in the clubhouse earlier and that he's been in Cleveland rehabbing for most of the month of January. "he's on track and progressing really well. he's feeling good and pushing the trainers to push forward his timetable."
January 27: at night, Michael was spotted at
the Cleveland Cavaliers game with Indians teammates Giovanny Urshela, Francisco Lindor, Jason Kipnis, Mike Napoli, Yan Gomes, Rajai Davis, and Zach McAllister.
|photo courtesy of @Indians on twitter|
January 28: Michael and some of his teammates organized a mini-camp in the morning at Force Sports in Westlake, Ohio. he took part in agility drills including footwork drills and catching and throwing with Gomes.
|photo courtesy of @MLBastian on twitter|
in an article on indians.com by Jordan Bastian, Michael said, "i went through almost a full workout. i did agility, i ran, i threw. everything is going great. i'm excited with where i'm at right now."
when will he start hitting? Michael's not sure. "it's all how you wake up in the morning, how i feel, how the progression's going. obviously, the strengthening drills that i'm doing now are to get ready to hit. it's a process. it's written out. we've got to stick to it. we'll go from there."
at night, Michael was at the Greater Cleveland Sports Awards at the Renaissance Hotel. he was nominated for Professional Athlete of the Year but did not win. however, he did present the Amateur Athlete of the Year Award with Kipnis. while on stage, Michael revealed that he's been in Cleveland for most of the offseason, training and working hard. he said he's doing great, he feels great, and will be back as soon as possible.
after the Awards dinner was over, Michael met with reporters. Bastian tweeted that Michael says he's progressing well and his goal is to be back by Opening Day, but he knows that might not be realistic.
|photo courtesy of @dmansworld474 on twitter|
in Bastian's article, he elaborated further on Michael's hopes. "i don't think it's fair to give myself a target," Michael explained. "my target is Opening Day. it's not that i'm going to go any slower or any faster, but i'm going to do everything the training staff asks me to do. i'll follow their schedule and do it to the best of my ability. whatever happens, if Opening Day i make it, i'm there. if i have to wait a couple weeks or whatever it is, i'll be ready to go."
"as a Cleveland fan, i hope they're excited about where i'm at right now, because i really am," Michael divulged in an article by Hayden Grove. "i've worked very hard so far and i'll continue to work hard. i'm going to do everything in my power. i'm going to work as hard as i can to get back as soon as possible and healthy."
lastly, Zack Meisel shared some insight on how Michael felt about playing through most of last season with injuries. "it happens. you have to be mentally tough. you have to grind through it. i love playing this great game. nothing is ever going to hold me out. if i can walk and feel like i can help my team and not hurt it, i'm going to be out there."
Michael does not regret attempting the diving catch that eventually led to his shoulder surgery, admitting he'd do it again. "100%. absolutely. i only know one way to play, and that's as hard as i can."
January 29: in the morning, Michael took part in the Indians Town Hall meeting, where he confessed that he's not good at tennis, and later played Indians Illustrated, otherwise known as pictionary.
|photos courtesy of @MLBastian on twitter|
later that night, Michael was at the Season Ticket Holder VIP Tribe Fest event at Aloft Downtown Cleveland.
|photo courtesy of @Indians on twitter|
he also met with reporters and, according to ESPN Cleveland's twitter, said that his shoulder feels great.
|photo courtesy of @MLBastian on twitter|
Michael spoke about listening to his body, leaning on the medical staff to make decisions, and using all the available resources throughout his rehab process. "a phenomenal doctor did my surgery. we've got a great medical staff and we all kind of come together and make sure, when it's go time, we're ready to go."
January 30: an excerpt from the latest Terry's Talkin' article by Terry Pluto said "the Indians will use Michael to play the field and run the bases in drills and also in some minor-league spring games. he will play in those spring games even before he is ready to bat. the idea is to have him physically prepared to play when the shoulder is finally healed. the Indians aren't worried about being ready for Opening Day, or the middle of May. they assume he'll be okay within the first two months of the season. last thing they want to do is rush it."
the Indians 2016 promotional schedule was released as Tribe Fest began and for the first time since 2012, there are no Michael Brantley promos on deck. that was disappointing to see.
i did not go to this year's Tribe Fest, but i did catch an online video of Michael playing in the Minute to Win It games, which he of course won.
|photo courtesy of Dan Mendlik on tribevibe.mlblogs.com|
during some live stream from WKYC, Michael sat down with Andre Knott and Matt Florjancic. i transcribed as much of the interview as i could. (the interview was later archived here.) this is what i got for ya.
"the shoulder's doing great. rehab's coming along. it's a slow process, i understand the process. where we're at right now, i can almost do everything baseball-wise except swing a bat. so i'm ahead of the curve when it comes to running and throwing. i've been up here almost all offseason rehabbing so i'm in a great spot."
when asked how tough it was to be away from his family in Florida while he's been rehabbing in Cleveland, he explained, "it's tough, but it's part of the job and i accepted it. i have a great wife at home that does a phenomenal job with the kids when i am away, but at the same time, if you get that family time in, when i got to go back a couple of times, it's even more special. but they'll be with me all season this year, so we'll definitely get the father-son, father-daughter time in. i gotta make up for it a little bit but i'll get it done."
Andre inquired about Michael's drive, and he disclosed he wasn't sure where it comes from. "i don't know if it's something built with inside me, or just my father, my parents raising me that way. but at the same time i was always competitive as a kid and i always wanted to be the best player that i could be. i never compared myself to other players because i didn't think it was fair. when it comes to my routine and my process, i think it's one of the reasons why i can handle bad situations or good situations so easily because i do the same routine every single day. good, bad, or indifferent, i'm prepared each and every day for the results. as long as i'm prepared, i can sleep at night."
next Matt asked Michael if he studies video of pitchers to get ready for games. "for me, i'm not a very big video guy, i'm a touch and feel guy. i gotta feel it. to me personally, if my swing feels good, i'm confident in whatever the guy throws at me. it's a confidence thing as well, but certain situations i understand what pitchers do well or what they're gonna try to do because i have more time in the league now. i've faced a lot of guys, i have more experience. but if i don't know the guy, he's either a younger guy or i've struggled against him in the past, i will do a little bit extra film study. but i don't really try to get caught up because to me, if you're up to the plate thinking about hitting, you're already losing because it's too hard to hit already, and you need to clear your mind and react to what happens and what the guy's throwing. i'm not trying to anticipate it. i'm not a guess hitter. i don't believe in being a guess hitter because if i'm wrong, there's no way out of it."
as someone who used to be very quiet, Michael has now embraced his role as a team leader. this really came to light last season, once Michael took over former teammate Nick Swisher's double locker in the front of the clubhouse. after being hidden in the back for most of his career, Andre proclaimed that with that move, Michael made a statement without making a statement. "it's a great responsibility but at the same time, i'm up for it. i did take that locker because i felt like where i was before, i was back in the shadows, kind of hidden off. you know i'm a quiet person, i understand that but at the same time, a lot of guys were leaning on me and looking to me for advice, wanted to talk to me. but if i was away and hidden in the back, they wouldn't know if i was sitting in the locker. they wouldn't know if i'm there. but now that i'm sitting right by the door, you walk in or out, you're gonna see me. i'm open to make sure i can talk to Lindor, Urshela, Ramirez, or even our veteran guy that has a question, that i'm right there, that they can see me each and every time. i think that was important."
before the interview ended, Michael let Andre and Matt and everyone watching know that he's leaving Monday [February 1] to go to Goodyear even though he's not scheduled to report until February 21. "i'm going early. i'm doing it because i want to get back to the field as soon as possible. and i know Arizona's the best place for me to continue rehabbing and get the rehab that i need to get back faster, so that's where i'll be."
|screenshot cropped from a live stream on wkyc.com|
January 31: in an interview with MLB Network Radio, Indians GM Mike Chernoff discussed Michael's rehab and recovery. "it's absolutely incredible how diligent he's been in this rehab process and how committed he is. this was a 5-6 month recovery time from when he got the surgery at the beginning of November. i think it's gonna impact the season in some way, and it's gonna probably carry into April, but when you talk to him, his mind is set on how does he help the team on Opening Day. you want guys that have that mentality and are committed to doing everything possible to get out there earlier. that's what's gonna give him a chance to beat the odds.
"as we look at it from a team perspective, we want to make sure that when he gets out there, he's 100% healthy. cause the last thing you want is for this to be a lingering injury that, you know, with 2 more weeks of rehab could have completely settled down and he has a great season, versus coming back a little bit early and it goes on throughout the whole season or maybe lingers on a little bit longer than that.
"the fact that this happened at the beginning of the season, i think there's maybe a little bit more spotlight on it, but it's not something that we can't get over and that he's not gonna bounce back from."
and that's all the news through January. clearly Michael's doing everything he can to get his shoulder back to normal as quickly as he can, not that we expected anything less. it's great to hear that he's already doing some baseball activities and i love his positive attitude. trust me, that can go a long way when recovering from surgery. i think he's gonna come back and be just like the same old Brantley that we love--a major force that opposing teams fear.
i'll formally go on record and say i think he rejoins the Tribe by his birthday (that's May 15 for those unfamiliar lol).
as always, you can follow me on twitter @clevelandgirl23 to get updates about Michael and other Michael news as it happens. and don't be afraid to subscribe to my mailing list on the right side of this blog so you get email notifications every time i post a new blog. you can always unsubscribe if you don't like it! give it a try!