so let me get right to it. if you haven't heard by now, Michael is going to open the season on the 10-Day DL. no, he did not suffer a setback. he simply hasn't quite built up the necessary endurance yet that's needed to play complete games every day. he last appeared in a Cactus League game on March 25, so the Indians can backdate his DL stint to March 26. that would potentially allow him to be activated in time for the Home Opener on April 6 versus the Kansas City Royals. fingers crossed he gets adequate playing time with the minor leaguers before then to make that a reality.🤞
in my previous updates blog, Michael was limited to throwing, hitting live BP, and doing straight-ahead running. since then, he's progressed to forward and backward running, lateral movements, outfield progression, a simulated game, baserunning workouts, and three minor league games before finally getting approval to play in Cactus League games with the Indians. he made it through every step on his rehab check list, but
there just weren't enough spring games left prior to camp's end for him to feel comfortable carrying a starter's workload into the beginning of the regular season.
Michael is no stranger to using his spring training as a rehab from surgery. he's now pretty much a pro at it. but the timing in particular is a real shame because he not only had to miss the majority of his final spring with the Tribe for that same reason again, but he's also going to miss out on his final Opening Day with his teammates and this ballclub. while that is a bummer, we must recognize that the main concern here is his health, and i do concur that delaying the commencement of Michael's walk-year with the Indians was the smartest move.
if you've been reading my blogs for the past two years, then you already know i divide Michael's Cactus League rehab info into two corresponding blogs. because of the circumstances of his rehab and this not being a normal spring for him, i have to do it that way in order to keep from presenting you with an enormous amount of stuff all at once. so this first post includes daily news, updates, running progressions, pictures, quotes, videos, and details of his rehab game at bats/plate appearances, spanning over all the Indians' spring games between February 23 and March 27.
my second blog contains Michael's Cactus League rehab game numbers, statistics, and game lines, and it's linked at the bottom of this post. if all you want to see are #s without the specifics of Michael's rehab, then definitely check that one out.
even with splitting the rehab up into separate details and numbers posts, this blog is very long. if you don't have a lot of time, then i suggest just reading what you like on the days that interest you the most. (or you could bookmark this page and read it all at your leisure another time.) to help make Michael's progressions stand out, however, i did highlight his rehab/running advancements in bold italics.
ICYMI: these blogs detail everything that's happened following Michael's ankle surgery on October 18, 2017:
Brantley Undergoes Right Ankle Surgery, Recovery Will Take 4-5 Months
Brantley News from October 2017
Brantley News from November 2017 & Why He Shouldn't Move to 1st Base
Brantley News & Ankle Updates from December 2017
Brantley News & Ankle Updates from January 2018
Brantley News & Ankle Updates from February 2018 (Pre-Spring Games)
Daily Rehab Updates (during the Indians' Cactus League Games: February 23 - March 27)
February 23: the Indians played in their first Cactus League exhibition game versus the Cincinnati Reds, but Michael did not. in the 3rd inning, Indians President of Baseball Operations Chris Antonetti joined Tom Hamilton on the WTAM 1100 radio broadcast. when Hammy sought an update on Michael, Antonetti stated that he's in a really good spot right now, hitting without restrictions and running. the next phase is more aggressive cuts and turns, which they expect Michael to get through seamlessly. Antonetti did concede that they can't rush him and they want to have a longer term outlook to get a healthy Michael for as much of the season as possible. he finished with, "that might be Opening Day."
February 24: Terry Pluto noted in a morning article on cleveland.com that Michael is iffy when it comes to being ready for Opening Day because he's had ankle and shoulder surgery in the past two seasons, playing only 101 games total. Pluto also commented the odds are against Michael, Jason Kipnis, and Lonnie Chisenhall all staying healthy for a full season.
February 25: before noon, Jordan Bastian tweeted that Francona said Michael had a great work day on Saturday [February 24]. one issue has been decelerating while running and the training staff was pleased with Michael's progress on that front.
in the top of the 2nd inning during the Indians game against the Reds, Hammy touched on the plight of Michael's recovery process on ALT 99.1 FM, informing that he's still a ways away from playing in games. on the contrary, he acknowledged that Michael had a really good day yesterday, according to Tito.
Bastian's article on mlb.com/indians had more news from the skipper, who disclosed Michael had difficulty decelerating recently, but made progress in recent workouts and might soon get to add outfield-specific drills to his daily rehab program. "from all accounts, he had his best day by far [yesterday]. so, they're starting to put a plan together where he'll get out to do defensive work. that's not to mean it's going to happen tomorrow, but they're getting to the point now where they're going to start to set up a schedule here pretty soon."
to be clear, decelerating was a current issue already this spring; they weren't referring to his problem last year during the 2017 season. that was validated in Chris Assenheimer's article on chroniclet.com from this Francona quote: "the thing that's probably been the biggest challenge for him so far is decelerating."
at 7 pm on MLB Network's 30 Clubs in 30 Days, Eric Byrnes briefly spoke with Michael. you can watch it here on mlb.com/indians, and/or watch this second video from mlb.com/indians, which has the extended, unaired clip.
Byrnes first inquired if he was healthy. Michael smiled, "i'm getting there, i'm close. uh, it's a process, you know, a little rehab, coming along great though, but uh, excited."
when describing the rehab process, Michael admitted, "yeah, it's tough. uh, you always wanna be out there with your boys and compete. you know, we all love baseball, that's why we do it, it's our passion, so when you're not out there it's tough, but at the same time, be a good teammate and uh, work as hard as you can to get back out there and, you know, join your boys."
Michael next talked about growing up in a baseball family and having a close relationship with his father, Mickey, who used to play, and what he learned from him. "i learned everything from him. uh, you know, i just was so thankful he took me to the field with him and, you know, i was always around all the guys that always embraced me and helped me out. but at the same time, i was learning from them and uh, i was quiet, but i was actually paying attention to the routines and what they were doing and what the best players at that time were doing. uh, it only helped me progress and i knew what i was getting into going into my, you know, after i got drafted, going into the minor league system, the bus rides and the whole nine. so it really helped me out a lot. can't thank him enough."
Byrnes couldn't resist bringing up Michael's two sons, wondering if he would be passing on some of his baseball knowledge to the next generation of Brantleys. "i hope, but i won't force it on them. i mean, if they love the game and they want it, i'll try my best like my father did for me and just, you know, pat 'em on the butt when they need it and just help 'em out with any expertise i can have, but if they don't, that's alright, i'm still gonna love 'em the same."
Byrnes also has a photo of their exchange on his instagram. (swipe to the third picture.)
another late mlb.com/indians article by Bastian included the now infamous "Michael is questionable for Opening Day" line.
February 26: Paul Hoynes declared in his morning article on cleveland.com that it's still unclear if and when Michael will be able to play left field for the Indians. ("if?" yikes.) Hoynsie subsequently wrote Michael still hasn't been able to cut and change directions when he runs. (hasn't been able to, or isn't yet allowed to try?😟)
during Francona's press conference, which can be found on wtam.iheart.com, he was asked if there was anything new with Michael. "Brant had a good day. no. um, no, nothing new."
News Talk 1480 WHBC Canton Ohio's youtube channel uploaded a little video of Michael taking batting practice and the News-Talk 1480 WHBC twitter account posted a video of Michael doing long-distance running drills after BP.
Bastian's article about Tyler Naquin for mlb.com/indians deduced how the uncertainty in left field, given Michael's comeback from surgery, could be Naquin's opening [to make the team out of camp].
in a postgame live chat video with Joe Noga and Hoynsie on the cleveland.com facebook page, Noga began giving an update on Michael before he was interrupted. he claimed Michael's been running in straight lines and continuing to hit, but his agility, change of direction, and starting and stopping seemed to be the problem in recovering from this particular ankle surgery. later, Hoynsie forewarned right now his gut feel is Michael will open the season on the DL.
February 27: Assenheimer's chroniclet.com article maintained Michael is still limited to live BP and running drills, but the medical staff is close to putting a schedule together for him to expand his rehabilitation.
February 28: here are some pictures of Michael before his morning BP session:
|photos courtesy of @MLBastian on twitter|
this was a split-squad day for the Tribe. in the bottom of the 5th inning during the Indians game versus the Seattle Mariners, Jim Rosenhaus was on the webcast exclusive audio. he shared that Michael's making his way back steadily and ramping up his activities. today, he was scheduled to continue stopping and starting and testing that surgically repaired ankle.
in Bastian's article on mlb.com/indians, Francona confirmed Michael was scheduled to do more "forward and backward" running and he's been getting "a little more aggressive" with each running workout, but there is still no established timetable for his return to games.
later, in the top of the 6th inning during the other Indians game against the Los Angeles Angels, the Angels radio broadcast feed from LAA-KLAA AM 830 mentioned Michael as well. their report was he is unrestricted offensively and progressing towards being cleared for defensive drills and baserunning.
also, via a video clip on mlb.com/indians, Michael discussed his health situation and answered questions. (i'm pretty sure this was recorded on media day on February 21.) "i think anybody would say the same thing, if you're not out there with your teammates and competing at a high level it's, a little bit of frustration is always gonna set in. at the same time, we have a great group of guys in that locker room that, you know, helps you get through it, you know, is always asking how you're doing and always pushing you to get better, so they make it a lot easier for you, uh, cause of the great group of guys we have in there."
"yeah, well, i'm already ahead. um, i've been hitting, i've been throwing, uh, running straight-ahead, so i'm ahead of where i was last year already, which is nice. i'm able to work on my swing so, uh, it should be a easy transition to, you know, game-like activities and uh, you know, just take it one day at a time. um, yes, i... i don't wanna keep going down this road, but at the same time, i know how to deal with it."
March 1: Tito addressed having a healthy Kipnis in his daily presser and then went into when they get Michael back at some point, "you just put him out there, wind him up, put him out there, and leave him alone. and that means you can mix and match at other positions."
as for injury updates, "nothing on Brant. but i mean, he's doing well, but nothing new today."
additionally, at the end of his session, the topic of how many outfielders he might go with was raised. the skipper cautioned it's too far off to decide that right now, but indicated some of it may be determined by how far away Michael is. "is he a handful of games away, a week away, or is he a month away?" the entire sesh can be found on wtam.iheart.com.
an article on mlb.com/indians by Jesse Sanchez included that Michael is increasing the intensity of his running program.
after the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Hoynsie participated in the Cleveland Baseball Talk Podcast with Noga for cleveland.com and labeled Michael as a wild card for the outfield. "i thought Brantley might be ready but, you know, from listening to uh, you know, the interview with uh, Tito this morning, uh, where he's still working on running backwards and forwards... uh, you know, he hasn't cut yet. you know, they've been always so careful with him, i don't think... you know, i'm leaning more toward he might not be ready."
March 2: Zack Meisel tweeted Michael was going to test his lateral movement with some defensive drills today, which is basically the only thing he hasn't done yet in his rehab because he's been hitting, throwing, running, and crashing interviews. lol
Jack Magruder's evening article for mlb.com/indians uncovered that Michael went through his first day of defensive agility drills on a back field, with a series of smaller bursts and directional changes, and felt great afterward. "just more turns and cuts, progressing where i need to be. all is going well. i'm progressing every day. that's all i can ask. i'm putting in the work that i need to get back on the field and compete with this great group of guys in this locker room."
his upcoming schedule contains more agility work and an increase in baserunning and outfield drills. "just keep progressing and adding volume to it and keep going. one day at a time. i do not want to look too far ahead. it's about how i come in every day. when the time comes, i'll be ready. there are not too many more hurdles yet, but at the same time, i want to make sure i am ready for each one. get back as soon as possible, but make sure it is 100 percent. there is no timetable on my return. i don't want to look at it like that, because then if i come back 80 percent, i am not helping this team. i want to give them everything i got, and that's 100 percent."
March 3: in Pluto's article on cleveland.com, he remarked that Naquin could grab the left field job if Michael isn't ready to open the season. Pluto added that the Indians are pleased with Michael's progress, but they don't want to rush him back.
Hoynsie's latest Hey, Hoynsie on cleveland.com featured a question from Steve in Medina, Ohio. he wanted an explanation of the Indians' philosophy concerning Jay Bruce, referencing how he signed a three-year deal for $13 million a year, while the Tribe signed Chisenhall (for what he thought was $10 million but was really $5.875 million) and Michael for $12 million, both of whom have been injury prone. Steve also presumed Bruce could have protected Edwin Encarnacion in the lineup. (this matter was dealt with several times several weeks ago, so i don't know where this guy has been or how anyone can still be upset about it.) Hoynsie didn't think the Indians were ever serious about bringing Bruce back. Michael and Chiz were attractive because of their talent and the fact that they were one-year investments.
March 4: Michael did more position-specific outfield drills this morning, according to Magruder's article on mlb.com/indians. Francona proclaimed he should be pleased with the progress he is making. "he should be upbeat. he's in great shape. through thick and thin, he's been diligent in what he's supposed to do. we're going to be thrilled to have him back, whether it's the second week of April, whenever... because that's a position you don't have to platoon. you just wind him up and let him go play."
an article with no author from Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette on nwaonline.com had more from Tito and Michael himself in regards to his recovery. (there are a couple inaccuracies in it, but i'm gonna give the quotes the benefit of the doubt.) "because he's been through so much, i think we haven't had to put the reins around him as much as maybe in the past," the skipper conveyed. "i think he's trying to look at this thing logically also. but if hard work means anything, which it does, he's going to be just fine."
there is no timetable for his first Cactus League game appearance, nor does Michael know how many games he'll need to play in order to be ready for the season, and he's not rushing to get back for Opening Day. "i think i'm getting older and i think i'm starting to understand it more, that i need to make sure that i'm 100 percent healthy when i come back. it takes time. it's not going to happen overnight, but put in the hard work that you need to get done and everything comes out good in the end.
"it's more how i personally feel and respond every day. i just want to get out there and get the reps when i'm needed and if i'm ready to go, i'm ready to go. if i'm not, i'll be there when i'm 100 percent healthy and get back to helping this team win."
furthermore, the article recounted how in the morning before everyone began their day, Michael peered over Mike Napoli's shoulder while he played cribbage with Josh Tomlin and Adam Plutko. Michael credits his teammates as being an important part of his recuperation. "they help me. they keep me positive and keep me going. i can't thank them enough for what they do for me. just picking me up every day if you're not healthy and telling how much they miss you and then at the same time, i'm doing anything i can to help them. it's a team effort all the way around."
|photo courtesy of Tony Dejak via Associated Press|
March 5: Tito praised Michael in Hoynsie's early morning cleveland.com article. "he's worked his rear end off. ...he's still got a career in front of him."
an article on mlb.com/indians by Alyson Footer depicted how Michael's been taking full rounds of batting practice and working on movements on defense. "Brantley's doing terrific, to where he's getting antsy and bugging everybody -- which i figure is really good," Francona expressed. "spend five seconds around him, you know how hard he works. he'll be ready when he's ready. i do think the good part of this is when he's ready, hopefully he can stay ready." there is still no timetable for his return.
March 6: during the top of the 2nd inning in the game against the Reds, Hammy insisted on the WTAM 1100 radio broadcast that Michael is "champing at the bit to get into these games." he recollected how last year, we saw how quickly Michael got ready because he has such a simple swing with so little movement. Hammy then relayed, "Michael said today he would be fine with one week's worth of games; he would feel that's enough at bats for him to be ready for Opening Day." Rosey chimed in, "if you look at Michael taking BP, you wouldn't know he wasn't doing the rest of it." Hammy agreed, "no. he's in great shape."
in the top of the 7th inning, Antonetti joined Matt Underwood and Rick Manning in the SportsTime Ohio booth. from a short video clip on SportsTime Ohio's twitter, he communicated, "we are most focused on getting Michael Brantley back fully healthy and whenever that might be, we'll be thrilled about it because we know when he's back and fully healthy, he's a really good player. and so, right now we're on a path for that to be very near or at the start of the season."
Bastian's postgame article on mlb.com/indians included that Michael continues to go through agility work in his running program.
additional details and quotes from Antonetti's chat with Underwood and Manning appeared in a late evening cleveland.com article by Hoynsie. "the great news is he's unrestricted in hitting and throwing. and actually today, he started his outfield progression. he took some ground balls in either direction and right at him, which is the next benchmark for him to work through. he's continued to make good progress." Antonetti went on to say that he didn't know if Michael will be ready on Opening Day, but they expect it to be then or right around then. lastly, in a text to whoever reached out to him from cleveland.com, he wrote: "for clarity, we still don't have a concrete timetable on him. we're not limiting it either way."
March 7: at 5 pm, Bastian announced, via Francona, that Michael would face live pitching during the afternoon workout. later on, Bastian gave an account of some of Michael's at bats during a simulated "B" game at the Tribe's complex: Michael hit a single to right field, flew out to left field, and hit into the right field corner. (the flyout can be seen in this video on mlb.com/indians.) JB also advised a misguided fan that nobody who participated in the B game (Naquin, Napoli, Ryan Hanigan, and Jack Murphy) ran the bases and then distinguished how this game is much different from BP because it was live, unpredictable pitching with an umpire and a defense, while BP is essentially fastball-based.
a lot more details were given in Bastian's article for mlb.com.indians. the simulated game took place on Field 2 and Michael went 2-for-4 in a total of four plate appearances. he tried to imagine a Major League ballpark setting with a loud crowd that reacted to every pitch, even though in reality few fans watch a sim game in the aluminum bleachers and those that do talk in hushed tones. "i need to take it professionally," Michael pronounced. "these at-bats are on a minor league field, but at the same time, i've got to take the same mentality going into it. those at-bats mean more to me, because [other] guys get more games in. so any extra at-bats i can get down here on the lower fields, i have to make sure i take them game-like as much as i can, have a plan and a philosophy and try to execute it."
Michael is still only permitted to do controlled outfield drills and agility work on the grass workout field--he has not been cleared yet for baserunning. a slow rehab progression is something Michael is quite familiar with. "i wish i wasn't so experienced in it. but, at the same time, i learn from it every time. i want to make sure that i'm paying attention to my body, making sure that i'm doing the right things, but also pushing myself a little bit to see where i'm at."
"he's doing really well," attested Tito. "this time, he's been able to hit the entire time, so when you ramp up, it's not like he's going to be playing catch-up, as far as physically, with his hitting. he's been hitting a ton. he's getting antsy. he's in a good spot."
the video embedded within the article consisted of even more quotes from Michael. (right away i picked up on how his voice didn't sound normal and i suspected he had a cold.) "getting the reps in, that's what's most important. uh, you know, taking it one day at a time, but i'm getting the reps in that i need. uh, just seeing some live pitching there, being able to hit batting practice every day and just work on my swing, it's nice. it's a good turnaround."
when asked how much it helps to be able to keep his hitting going while he waits to get to other elements of his rehab, he replied, "yeah, well, you know time is one of the biggest things when it comes to hitting regardless. so the timing part is, uh, the last to come so the more at bats i can get in, the better off it's gonna be to the start of the season."
later at night, during the bottom of the 4th inning of the game versus the Chicago Cubs, Rosey specified on the webcast exclusive that Michael faced Stephen Fife and Josh Martin during his sim game. Hoynsie's article on cleveland.com further supplied that Brandon Barnes got some at bats as well, and Hanigan and Murphy caught while minor leaguers played defense. "when he's a pain in the butt, you know he's feeling good," Francona enlightened. "that's a good sign." the manager also postulated his potential regular season lineup. "we've got some pretty good hitters up top: Jason Kipnis, Jose Ramirez and potentially Michael Brantley." after already publicizing that he had no problem keeping Francisco Lindor in the leadoff spot, i'm not sure Tito has Michael locked in that 3 hole anymore...
Bastian's postgame article on mlb.com/indians listed Louis Head as another pitcher who saw time on the mound during the simulated game. i don't know if Michael faced him though.
March 8: Michael was sent home today due to illness, but came out of the simulated game fine, per Francona, from Bastian's article on mlb.com/indians.
in the Cleveland Baseball Talk Podcast on cleveland.com, Noga brought up Michael and Hoynsie delineated, "in individual outfield drills, he's moving to his left and his right on taking ground balls and ground balls right at him. ...i think he's made some progress and they're encouraged that...he could be ready hopefully maybe by the Home Opener by the time the Indians come back from that first road trip."
when the subject changed to the lineup, Hoynsie analyzed who might hit 3rd this year. "Brantley, he's, when healthy, he usually hits in the third spot, so, you know, i would think, it would be interesting to see what Francona does when Brantley comes back and where he hits him, but, you know, Brantley has always hit in that third spot so i would think he'd stay there. so that's gonna be an interesting development to watch."
Hoynsie's evening article on cleveland.com unearthed that Michael had strep throat. Hoynsie also reiterated that Michael could open the season on the disabled list.
March 9: here's a passage from Pluto's Scribbles on cleveland.com: "watching the tape of a recent Terry Francona press conference from Goodyear, he mentioned this order for the top of the lineup: Francisco Lindor, Jason Kipnis, Michael Brantley, Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Ramirez. ...Brantley (if healthy) has been a very good No. 3 hitter and will probably remain there."
in the afternoon, Bastian fielded fan questions in a facebook live video on MLB's page for their Edward Jones Beat Reporter's Inbox. towards the end, Kelly wanted to know when we can expect Brantley back. "right now, he's working through agility stuff. he's done some outfield work. he's been hitting against live pitching. the only thing he hasn't done to this point is baserunning and getting into Cactus League games. so once those steps start taking place, we'll have a firmer grasp on whether or not he'll be ready for Opening Day. i think the good news is when you look back compared to a year ago, a year ago he really couldn't do as much hitting because it was a shoulder injury. because it was an ankle injury this time around, he's been in the cage, he's been doing all his hitting stuff. so when that other aspects of his rehab are in place, the hitting will come along quickly and i don't think... so he could push for Opening Day. if not, maybe shortly into April."
following the Indians game against the Colorado Rockies, Bastian's article on mlb.com/indians updated that Michael was back with the team today.
March 10: Bastian tweeted that Francona notified Brantley is doing well and might be cleared to advance to the baserunning portion of his running program in the "next couple days."
before the game against the San Diego Padres, Tim Belcher, filling in for Hammy on WTAM 1100, described how he saw Michael at 6 or 7 in the morning and called him "favorite player." Michael, in response, calls Belcher "favorite coach."
March 11: Francona told the media that Michael was scheduled to go through a baserunning workout today, along with taking fly balls off the bat in outfield drills, according to Bastian's mlb.com/indians article. but the timetable for his Cactus League debut remains unclear.
March 12: Hoynsie's article on cleveland.com incorporated more from Tito about Michael's "baserunning segment" from the day before. "he's really progressing. they're throwing a lot at him and he's handling it all. he's in great shape."
then, for the first time that i can even remember, Francona was very uncertain about where Michael would hit in the lineup when he returns. to me, it no longer sounds as if the 3 hole belongs to Dr. Smooth. "Josie has done such a good job there. Michael is really understanding of that. he just wants to hit somewhere. we would cross that bridge when we get to it. i would, obviously, do some thinking ahead of time on it. i just think you spend too much time concerning yourself with those things. by then something else may change. i don't spend a lot of time worrying about down the road just because things change so fast."
the article did declare, however, that if Michael is healthy, he'll start in left field, but right now he is still questionable for Opening Day.
"everybody cares about one another in that locker room," Michael avowed in a Tribe Together video on mlb.com/indians. "we're, you know, team-first atmosphere, team-first approach all the time and i think that's something special. you never walk in our locker room and see cliques or, you know, people not talking to each other or you never heard of a scuffle. that's not what we do, you know? we're all set out to, you know, reach that one goal and do it as a team."
in Bastian's postgame article for mlb.com/indians, he wrote Michael felt fine after introducing baserunning to his running rehab program on Sunday [March 11] and was slated to go through outfield drills during today's workout. "he's really doing well," Tito asserted. "he's excited."
March 13: on the Indians' off day, an article from Bastian was published on mlb.com/indians with updated Opening Day roster predictions. in it, JB unveiled that Francona believes Michael has been acting like himself again, or "froggy." he's been chirpy around the batting cage and insistent about pushing the aggressiveness in his controlled workouts. so now Bastian thinks Opening Day might be a realistic target for Michael's return. he named him as one of the three outfielders, but made it a point to say if the Indians feel that his rehab schedule should go into April, the team will not hesitate to take that approach.
March 14: Fabian Ardaya's evening article on mlb.com/indians alleged Michael is scheduled to get two at-bats as the designated hitter in a minor league game tomorrow. "he's doing really well," briefed Francona. "we're still debating on maybe how extensive his morning is, but he's doing well. i think how he responds to what he's done [will impact what he does].
"i think he's tired of [his time on the trainer's table]. but i think he's got a mature outlook on it because he's had to go through it so often and he's missed time. i think he wants to give himself the best chance to come back and stay back, and i do think he's done a good job. i've always felt that way about him. things have just come up along the way that sometimes happens when you're playing a sport."
CORRECTION: at 10:30 pm, the article completely changed to say that Michael actually already played in a minor league game today and got two plate appearances as the designated hitter. no word on what the results were and no video was posted. that's such poor reporting and i can't believe nothing circulated anywhere ahead of time that Michael was going to play in a game today. wth. that's one of the final steps before getting into a Cactus League game and it was treated like it was no big deal. very disappointing.
March 15: Hoynsie posted an article on cleveland.com in the afternoon with one extra detail about Michael's game with the minor leaguers, in that he was allowed to do a controlled run to first base. i tweeted at Hoynsie if he happened to know if Michael got any hits, and his answer was "do not believe so." Hoynsie also noted that Michael went through outfield drills today and his next game will depend on how his ankle responds. "he's doing terrific," Francona affirmed.
in the weekly Cleveland Baseball Talk Podcast on cleveland.com, Hoynsie deliberated Michael's chances of opening the season on time with Noga. "i think he's getting really close. i wouldn't be surprised if he opens the season on time or is maybe three or four or five, a week late, but i think he's making progress. ...they said he's run the bases in segments, so i don't know if that's, usually when you run the bases, you go home to 1st, 1st to 2nd, you run the whole thing. so i don't know if he's just going home to 1st, 1st to 2nd, or if he's just kinda done the whole circuit yet, but when you run the bases, that's usually the last hurdle before you go into games. and he's cutting in the outfield, taking fly balls and ground balls in the outfield. and he's been able to hit and throw all spring, so i think he's getting close unless, knock on wood, he has some kind of setback. i think he's getting very, very close."
Bastian's article on mlb.com/indians had an excerpt on Michael, stating that he was doing fine today and will continue to play in minor league games before transitioning to Cactus League action. Tito assessed, "if he doesn't [return by Opening Day], i don't think it's going to be a whole lot after. i just think we're thrilled with how he's doing, and we'll kind of leave it at that. he's in such a good place. he's bouncing around. it gets kind of exciting. he's such an important guy for us. we haven't had him for so much of the last couple years, but he's kind of the heart and soul of our team. even when he wasn't playing, he managed to be a leader. so, getting him back on the field, everybody would be thrilled."
before the game versus Reds finished in the bottom of the 9th inning, Rosey quickly discussed Michael on the audio from WMMS 100.7, saying Francona is really encouraged, but not quite ready yet to put a timetable on when Michael would return to game action in the Cactus League; he's extremely optimistic and encouraged by the progress Michael is making.
March 16: Bastian tweeted there's still no firm date for Michael's Cactus League debut, but he's "doing great," according to the skipper. Bastian included in his mlb.com/indians article that Michael was scheduled to continue outfield-specific work during today's workout. "i haven't even asked," Tito confessed about when Michael might make his debut in a Cactus League game. "obviously, i care, but he's doing so well and i know he's champing at the bit. i don't want to put more pressure on the medical staff, because i know Brant's really pushing now, because he feels so good."
moreover, during the game against the Oakland Athletics, Bastian joined Rosey on the mlb.com webcast exclusive in the top of the 6th inning and speculated, "it's starting to feel like Opening Day might be realistic" [for Michael].
March 17: after the fact, i learned Michael played in his second minor league game today and, per Francona, via Bastian, he went 2-for-2 with a home run. though it was not made known, i believe his other hit was a single because if it had been another extra base hit, that probably would have been recognized with the homer. i'm also guessing the HR was a solo bomb and that he totaled one RBI and one run, but i cannot be sure. no idea whether he was allowed to do his home run trot or not either. i should have reached out to someone about it. oh well.
Tribeinsider on twitter later revealed that it was a "camp" day for the minor league teams, with 2-3 inning games played between Akron & Columbus and Lake County & Lynchburg. so Michael participated in an intrasquad game.
Bastian's article for mlb.com/indians expounded that Michael was the DH in the game on one of the minor league fields at Cleveland's complex and his Cactus League debut could be coming in the near future. Francona said Michael's been good about abiding by the plan mapped out by the Indians' training and medical staff. "he's been hurt a lot lately. he wants to stay healthy. so he's handling it better than he may have done a couple years ago. i think he's smart enough to know that our goals are the same."
an article on cleveland.com from Jamie Turner proposed that Brandon Guyer, who's recovering from left wrist surgery, could be just a few days away from playing in Cactus League games, whereas Michael is on a slower buildup in his rehab. and Hoynsie's evening article on cleveland.com reminded everyone how Michael could still open the season on the disabled list.
March 18: Pluto's morning article on cleveland.com divulged that the Indians are very encouraged by Michael's comeback from major ankle surgery, but he did contend it's hard not to be skeptical because Michael has been through the rehab process the last two springs -- and then run into major injuries during the regular season.
CORRECTION: Bastian's afternoon article on mlb.com/indians corrected that Michael actually played the outfield during his minor league game on Saturday [March 17]. (omg, what a mess it has been trying to get accurate and detailed information about Michael's rehab games this spring.)
during the first Indians game of a split-squad day against the Cubs in Las Vegas for Big League Weekend, Andre Knott, in-game reporter for SportsTime Ohio, gave a "heads-up" in a video on mlb.com/indians that Michael should be back tomorrow in a minor league lineup. "so far, so good for Michael Brantley."
and during the second Indians game against the Mariners, Rosey told WTAM 1100 radio listeners that today was a work day for Michael, and maybe this week we'll see him in a Cactus League game.
March 19: T.J. Zuppe tweeted in the early afternoon how Francona anticipated Michael will play 4 innings in left field in an A-ball game today and if all goes well, he will play left field in a Cactus League game for the Indians Wednesday night [March 21] for 3-4 innings.
during the game against the San Francisco Giants, Rosey, on an mlb.com radio exclusive, clarified that Michael would just be playing defense today in the Single A game.
Sanchez wrote for mlb.com/indians that Michael likely won't play at all on Thursday [March 22] and that it's unclear if he'll be ready for Opening Day. "there's a progression, i think you call them milestones, and they just keep hitting the progressions, and when they do that, they move forward," Francona explained re: Michael (and Guyer).
BRB Joe on twitter happened to attend the minor league game that Michael (along with Corey Kluber) was a part of. he spotted Michael playing with the likes of Nolan Jones and Jose Fermin. based on that, after consulting the boxscore report on pressbox.mlb.com from the minor league games on this date, courtesy of Tribeinsider, i was able to deduce that Michael played with the Lynchburg Hillcats against the Chicago White Sox's Advanced Single A team--the Winston-Salem Dash--at Camelback Ranch in Glendale. (even though Michael's name is not on the stats sheet, he had to have been on that team if Joe is correct, which i believe he is.)
|photos courtesy of @BurningRiverBB on twitter|
March 20: on the Indians' final off day of spring, a twitter video was posted by SportsTime Ohio, where Michael credited his support system for getting him through his injuries in the last few years. "the long road i've been through, you know, the last few years, uh, it's not easy. but i feel like those guys in that locker room kept me positive. those guys in this locker room played an extra month and a half to get to the World Series while i'm rehabbing every day but, they were there with me through most of it. uh, you know, my family support system i have for me is phenomenal. i can't thank them enough for just, you know, the days where you want to go home, put your head on a pillow, and cry because you're not out there with your teammates. but at the same time you know that, you know your team's still counting on you to come to the field with a smile and making sure you can help in any way that you can and that you're showing them that you're working just as hard as they are even though you can't get on the field but you're busting, you know, your tail to get back there as soon as possible."
at night, in a Hey, Hoynsie article on cleveland.com, Hoynsie let Ben from Charlotte, North Carolina, know that Michael may be on the Opening Day roster (after Ben assumed Michael wouldn't be).
**BRANTLEY'S CACTUS LEAGUE GAMES BEGIN**
March 21: in the afternoon, in a facebook live video on cleveland.com's page, Noga and Hoynsie took fan questions. Hoynsie commented that Michael's making such good progress that he would not be surprised if Michael's playing left field on March 29 at Safeco Field. "Brantley's been able to swing all spring, all winter. he's been able to throw, so his arm and his bat are there. it's just a question of how much he can run, how much the ankle will tolerate and he seems to be reaching a point where he's game ready."
when the lineup for the 9:05 pm ET game versus the Kansas City Royals came out, Michael's name was in it! in his Cactus League debut, Michael bat 5th (something he hasn't done in the regular season since April 29, 2014!) and started in left field.
|photos courtesy of @Indians on twitter|
"Michael is in the lineup tonight so that will be kind of fun to watch," Francona exclaimed in Hoynsie's cleveland.com article. he'll play four or five innings depending on the pace of the game and how much action he gets.
as for if Michael will be in the starting lineup on March 29, "i haven't really said anything, just because i want him to get better and healthy," Tito remarked in Ryan Lewis' article on ohio.com. "and i know just from watching him, how hard he's trying, how hard he pushes. i just don't think it's productive for me to sit here and [say that]. he's doing everything he can to get ready. whether it's Opening Day or a week later, i'll be happy that he's healthy. and, just by looking at him, he does look pretty healthy. it's kind of fun to watch."
at long last, i had the ability to follow Michael's ABs live through MLB Gameday and an mlb.com exclusive webcast.
Michael's first at bat of Cactus League play came when he led off the bottom of the 2nd inning with the Indians leading, 1-0. after a 2-0 count from right-handed pitcher Jason Hammel, he hit a high fly ball, which bounced off the roof beyond the right field wall, according to Bastian, for a home run. flashback: Michael ended his 2017 spring campaign on a 5-game hitting streak (from March 25-26 and March 28-30, 2017), so this hit now gave him a 6-game spring hitting streak.
|photo courtesy of @SportsTimeOhio on twitter|
|photo courtesy of @Indians on twitter|
Hoynsie recalled how two years ago, when Michael was coming back from shoulder surgery, he also homered in his first spring game back (on March 19, 2016).
immediately following Michael's solo shot, Knott, who was already in the middle of interviewing Kluber, asked Klubes about it. from a video on mlb.com/indians, Kluber commended, "...he's obviously had to put in a lot of time in the training room to get to the point where he's able to, to play. um, but, you know it's, it's not a question of whether or not he's gonna be able to hit. i think we all know that's gonna come." so after hitting a home run in his first game in two of the last three springs now, Kluber joked, "yeah. it's his, it's his new routine for spring training i guess."
defensively, in the top of the 3rd inning, Michael came in to catch a fly ball that was hit to shallow left field and recorded the first out of the inning and his first putout of the spring.
in Michael's second at bat of the game, with Ramirez at 1st base, 1 out, and the Tribe still up, 2-0, he faced Hammel again and struck out looking after a 1-2 count. the pitch sequence went: ball, foul, foul, called strike 3.
during this AB, Francona was sitting with Knott and spoke about Michael coming back. from a video on mlb.com/indians, Tito stressed, "you know what? it's not that easy. it just goes to show you two, two things. one, how hard of a worker he is, and the second thing is how simple and how solid his swing is."
as for a timetable, "i honestly don't know. and the timetable is when he's ready. and we're trying not to, we, we know how hard he works. we don't need to push it. you know, when he's ready, the training staff will tell us. now the one good thing is that he's antsy now, he's feeling a little froggy and i think that's a really good sign."
in addition, the skipper agreed with Knott that some of the early April off days might also play into the decision. "it certainly can. i mean, we don't mind getting him back before he can play every day. he's such a good player, that if we have to massage that a little bit, we've done it before and he knows we're willing to do that."
Michael's third at bat of the game occurred in the bottom of the 4th inning with Ramirez at 2nd base, 2 outs, and the Tribe ahead, 6-4. after a 1-0 count from Hammel, he hit a high fly ball to left field to end the inning.
after 5 innings, Michael was subbed out defensively in left and ended his night going 1-for-3 with a home run and one putout. not a bad debut.
in the bottom of the 5th inning, Michael was in the hot seat and conferred with Knott about his health. in this video from mlb.com/indians.com, Michael began, "i feel good. uh, i'm excited to be back, just, like you said, playing with these guys. uh, you know, you see all the hard work everybody's putting in every day and you just want to be a part of it and, you know, join your group of guys."
while being pelted with sunflower seeds by Kipnis, Michael emphasized the importance of his work ethic. "hard work pays off. um, you know, don't take a day off, make sure that i'm coming in every day just trying to prepare my body and myself to the best of my ability. uh, even the days that you know you're not playing, just come out there with, you know, a game-ready attitude and, you know, just keep pushing yourself to get better every day."
when prompted what's next if it's up to him, Michael teased, "play another big league game. uh, you know, uh, just come in, make sure i feel good in the morning. uh, test it out again, make sure i get my sprints in, do some outfield work and just make sure i stay, you know, uh, keeping my legs healthy and ready to go."
Michael also did another longer interview with reporters inside the complex. cleveland.com's youtube channel provided the best video of that for me to transcribe.
how'd it feel to get out there, first time in Cactus League? "it felt good. um, you know, just hard work pays off, just being out there, you know, with my teammates, and just trying to get back in the swing of things and play a Major League game."
what'd he feel like to make contact with that first at bat? "i mean, the results are gonna vary. i just felt good in the batter's box, that's all i care about. ball wasn't speeding up on me. i was making good decisions and uh, results are gonna vary, but it was nice to put up some good swings tonight."
does he think there's enough time for him to be ready for Opening Day? "we shall see. i'm gonna take it one day at a time like i always say. you know, i gotta wake up tomorrow, i gotta do my agility work, i gotta do my tests and make sure i feel good and then, you know, hopefully play again. one day at a time. all is positive right now and i'm just glad to be back."
has [the ankle] been staying stable, no pain? "it's doing really well. but uh, you know, i have to, the intensity picks up, you know, games pick up, longer games, um, i just gotta see how it's gonna respond every day. i'm very happy where it is. the work ethic that myself, doctors, and trainers have put in, i can't thank them enough for, you know, their help and uh, just gonna keep working hard."
how big of an advantage has it been to be able to swing the bat for most of spring training? "it's a huge advantage. um, you know, timing's everything when it comes to hitting and just to be able to have the repetition and, you know, taking quality swings in the cage and hitting BP regularly. uh, it's a, you know, i'm ahead of where i was last year because of the shoulder, i didn't have to really monitor it. i was hitting pain-free when i got here so, uh, it was a big advantage for me."
in another cleveland.com youtube video, Francona complimented Michael's home run. "it was nice to see. i don't think it's as easy as he makes it look, but he... i mean he's been hitting a bunch, but there's so little maintenance to his swing. that was, that was fun to watch."
when a member of the media rationalized how Michael needs the time in the outfield more than the at bats, the skipper verified, "that's why i left him in there through five, even though he had already hit three times, but we need him to get his reps to, you know, build up that, build up his endurance."
March 22: during the Cleveland Baseball Talk Podcast on cleveland.com, Hoynsie delved into whether Michael will open the season with the Indians. "i think he's got a really, a legitimate chance of being there. he played last night, homered in his first at bat, looked good, looked good in the outfield." Noga observed that Michael had a good throw behind a runner to almost get a guy out at 3rd base last night as well. "so it looks like he's moving around pretty good out there in the outfield to throw the ball."
"this spring, he's been able to throw and hit all spring because this injury was his ankle, not his shoulder," resumed Hoynsie. "...you could tell his timing was there, his arm was strong. i think that's really got him excited. as long as the ankle comes along, i think he's gonna be able to really progress pretty fast here. even if he doesn't make it by Opening Day, i would imagine he'll be ready for the Home Opener when they come home to open the season at Progressive Field."
before the end of the podcast, Noga pressed Hoynsie for a projected Opening Day lineup. Hoynsie didn't know if Francona would keep three lefties in the middle of the lineup like last night with Michael, Yonder Alonso, and Chisenhall. "i thought for sure Brantley would come back and hit 3. ...i think Tito sticks with Ramirez in the #3 spot. i think he, you know, he's talked to Brantley about it. Brantley said, 'all i wanna do is get back in the lineup.' so i think you let Brantley hit 5th and you see where that takes you. i don't think you lose anything by flip-flopping those guys. if Brantley gets hot, you move him up to 3, you move Ramirez down to 5 where he hit a lot last year and protected Encarnacion. i think that's a can't lose situation to me."
(like Michael would ever outwardly complain about his BOP though. know your audience. i guarantee he privately feels like it's a demotion.)
in the bottom of the 1st inning of the Tribe game versus the San Diego Padres, Hammy told 100.7 WMMS radio listeners, "unless there's a setback, you can look for Michael Brantley to be in the lineup next Thursday night."
then in the top of the 2nd inning, Hammy, who hadn't heard anything official, continued, "i'd be stunned if Michael Brantley wasn't back playing next Thursday night."
in the late evening, Bastian posted another revised Opening Day roster on mlb.com/indians with Michael still listed as one of the outfielders, noting that so far there have been no setbacks in his comeback.
March 23: when Hoynsie went over the potential Opening Day roster in his cleveland.com article, he called the outfield "unstable" because the team doesn't know if Michael will be ready for Opening Day.
from another facebook live video on the cleveland.com page, Hoynsie voiced that we don't know how durable Michael's gonna be, so the Indians might have to look for an outfielder with some pop at the trade deadline.
in Michael's second Cactus League game, he bat 4th (something he hasn't done in the regular season since May 9, 2016!) and started in left field versus the Arizona Diamondbacks at 9:05 pm ET.
|photo courtesy of @Indians on twitter|
Tito announced in his pregame media session that Michael will play 7 innings and then DH in a minors game on Saturday [March 24], per Bastian. Lewis later justified in his ohio.com article that playing in a minor league game will alleviate some travel for Michael.
an article on cleveland.com by Hoynsie had more from the skipper on why he flipped Michael and Encarnacion in the order. "there are going to be days when we just stack them (left-handed hitters) up and try to beat the starter. we have who we have. and we're short a switch-hitter (Carlos Santana) that we've had for years. that changes the look of the lineup a lot. that's just the way it is. i think Brant can hit anywhere, and he's willing to. and Edwin doesn't care if he hits fourth, he just wants to hit. so i'd like to not let a team that has one really good lefty just face three or four in a row. that doesn't seem to be doing our guys any favors."
(seems to me like the issue would resolve itself if Francona didn't put his only two switch-hitters in the top three spots of the order, but apparently that's written in stone now.)
again, i had access to the contest with MLB Gameday and the Gameday audio, provided by CLE ALT 99.1.
in Michael's first at bat in the bottom of the 1st inning with Ramirez at 1st base, 2 outs, and no score, he faced left-handed starter Patrick Corbin. after a 2-0 count, he grounded out to 2nd base to end the inning.
going against Corbin again in the bottom of the 3rd inning with Ramirez at 2nd base, 1 out, and the Indians up, 1-0, Michael popped out to short on the first pitch. at this time, Hammy repeated to look for Michael to be in the lineup Thursday [March 29] in Seattle.
Michael's third AB took place in the bottom of the 5th inning with 2 outs and the Tribe on top, 2-0. he sent Corbin's 1-0 pitch to right field for a line drive single. that extended his spring hitting streak to 7 games! also during this appearance, Rosey informed listeners that by playing in a minor league game tomorrow, Michael can get as many at bats as he wants.
before his night was done, Michael got one more at bat, this time against right-hander Yoshihisa Hirano with 1 out in the bottom of the 7th inning. the Indians had a 5-1 lead when Michael struck out looking after a 2-2 count. the pitch sequence went: foul back, ball, ball, swinging strike, called strike 3.
March 24: ahead of the game against the Texas Rangers, Bastian reported, via Tito, that due to the night game last night, Michael will go through a "work day" today rather than play in a minors game and will be back in the Cactus League lineup on Sunday [March 25].
(i found this odd because it's not like they didn't know last night that Michael would be attempting a "back-to-back" on a night-day combo. and if he was just going to get ABs as the DH and not play the field, then this made even less sense and kinda worried me.)
then later, as the Indians made their decision on which reliever would round out their OD bullpen, Hoynsie wrote in a cleveland.com article that the only undecided position on the team is the outfield because they're still unsure if Michael is healthy enough to open the season on Thursday [March 29] in Seattle.
Bastian incorporated some quotes on Brant from Francona in his evening article on mlb.com/indians. "i think Brant looks good. if you watch real close, i think you can see ... the gait's not quite as smooth maybe as we've seen. but, that's only if you're really searching. i think he's done a great job. i think he's in a great place. whether it's Opening Day or a week later, in the grand scheme of things, it's so important to get him back and get him back healthy. and it's not that we don't value him for the first week of the season -- we do. but, i think in the grand scheme of things, looking at the bigger picture, it's really exciting."
another piece on cleveland.com from Hoynsie reassured that it sounds more and more like Michael will be ready for the season opener.
March 25: when Michael played in his third Cactus League game, he bat 4th again and started in left field versus the Reds at 3:05 pm ET.
|photo courtesy of @Indians on twitter|
be that as it may, prior to the game, Francona publicized that Michael would be starting the year on the DL not because of a setback, but because the Indians just don't feel he's ready for a "full load," according to Bastian's tweet.
Hoynsie's article on cleveland.com calculated that the Indians can make the move retroactive. in doing that, Michael would have the option to come back once the 10 days were up and only be on the disabled list for the first week of the regular season/miss just the Tribe's first six games on the road. that is a best case scenario, but it is quite feasible at this point.
in his media session, Francona disclosed, "Michael is going to start the year on the disabled list. he'll play in today's game. he's doing great. i just think, after we put our heads together, it would be good for him. he's just not quite ready maybe to carry enough of the load. there's no setback or anything like that."
"it's just [the decision we made] after putting our heads together, and i give him a lot of credit for his honesty," Tito acclaimed in Bastian's article for mlb.com/indians. "he's going to be ready when he's ready. [he's] close enough where we certainly talked about him making the ballclub. but it made sense to let him have some more time playing."
as for his upcoming rehab, Michael will play in minor league games like they're Major League games, and not bat in every inning. "we're going to try to space that out where it mirrors a Major League game, so his times of inactivity are the same as when he's in a Major League game."
there are more details and a synopsis of all of Michael's previous DL stints in the separate "Brantley To Open Indians' 2018 Season on 10-Day DL" blog i wrote.
i followed along with the game again through MLB Gameday and an mlb.com/indians webcast exclusive.
Michael faced right-hander Luis Castillo in the bottom of the 1st inning with Ramirez at 1st base, 2 outs, and no score. after an 0-1 count, Castillo threw to 1st to try and pick off Ramirez. then Michael hit a ground ball single to 2nd base, which was deflected by the Reds' 1st baseman. that gave Michael a 3-game spring hitting streak this year and an overall 8-game spring hitting streak, dating back to March 25, 2017 (March 25-26, & March 28-30). he later scored a run on Alonso's two-run double.
in the bottom of the 3rd inning, Michael came to bat with Kipnis at 3rd base, Ramirez at 1st, no outs, and the Indians leading, 2-1. before Castillo threw a pitch to Michael, he threw to 1st in a pickoff attempt. following an 0-1 count, Michael sent a ground ball into right field for an RBI single. the base knock further signified Michael's first multi-hit game of spring!
Michael led off the bottom of the 5th inning with the Indians on top, 4-2, and after a 1-0 count from Castillo, he grounded out to 1st base. he did not come back out for the top of the 6th inning and so his day was done.
in Hoynsie's evening article on cleveland.com, Francona pointed out that Michael can play in some minor league games after the Indians leave for Seattle, but admitted he's not sure what Michael will do when the minor league clubs break camp. "then we'll have to figure it out after that."
lastly, here's a photo of Michael and Yan Gomes hanging out with a team from the 7th Special Forces Group during batting practice:
|photo courtesy of @Yan_AGomes on twitter|
March 26: in a hype video supplied by the Indians' twitter, Michael pledged, "i'm set out to do one thing just like everybody else in that locker room and that's to get that ring and, there's nowhere else i want to be."
in the afternoon, Noga and Hoynsie did another facebook live video for cleveland.com. Noga tried telling everyone that Michael wouldn't be hitting a walk-off in the Indians' Home Opener this year since he was going to start the season on the 10-Day DL, but Hoynsie let him know they can retroactive that to the day of his last game (yesterday) and so there might be a chance that Michael's ready for the opener.
a fan later queried where Michael will hit in the batting order when he comes back. Hoynsie contemplated, "they've got so many left-handers, left-handed hitters in that lineup. i know Francona doesn't want to hit three in a row at the bottom of the lineup and kind of expose that lineup late in the game for somebody to bring in a left-handed reliever and have just an easy time going through three guys, or he's gotta go to his bench for a pinch-hitter and use his pinch hitter. ...you drop Brantley down to 4, then you put Encarnacion, a right-handed hitter, down to 5. ..then you put Alonso in at 6. then you only have to hit two lefties in a row."
Hoynsie also revealed that there's a Triple A game on Wednesday night [March 28] versus Milwaukee that Mike Clevinger was going to pitch in before joining up with the club in Seattle. i then surmised Michael would be playing in that game as well, to work on building up his endurance.
Bastian's evening article on mlb.com/indians stated that Michael was not expected to appear in either of the games against the Diamondbacks today or Tuesday [March 27]. by holding him out, the Indians can make the DL stint retroactive to yesterday, so Michael would be eligible for activation on April 6 for the Indians' Home Opener.
when listing out the Opening Day lineup, Bastian wrote in another article for mlb.com/indians that when Michael returns, there's a chance he bats cleanup to create balance for a lineup that's left-handed heavy.
March 27: Michael will continue to play in minor league games through the end of this week in Arizona, per Bastian's article on mlb.com/indians. Francona said the team will discuss the next step for Michael this weekend.
Hoynsie specified in his article for cleveland.com that minor leaguers break camp on Saturday [March 31]. "after Saturday we've got to figure out what the plan is," Tito divulged. "we're in the process of figuring that out."
from a video on the cleveland.com youtube channel (which was recorded on media day back on February 21), Michael shared his favorite thing about Cleveland. "uh, just the city. uh, it's my first big league, you know, stadium i've ever been in for, this is my home stadium and uh, how they embrace me. uh, i love all the fans."
**END OF CACTUS LEAGUE PLAY**
i will be tweeting all the updates and information i find out about Michael's extended spring/minor league rehab performances while he's on the DL as the Indians begin their regular season games. so make sure you're following me @clevelandgirl23 for that, along with my #CelebratingMichaelBrantley series! regardless of when he returns, i will be putting the spotlight on some of Michael's best moments in his career with the Tribe by tweeting them every Monday throughout this year, starting on April 2. i've already looked back and found a lot of really great memories (and tweeted a couple as a little preview of what to expect), so there's also a good chance i'll be posting bonus tweets on other days that aren't Mondays as well.😉 definitely follow the hashtag so you don't miss out and feel free to add your own favorite highlights, too, if you'd like!🎉
one more reminder: to receive notifications every time i post new blogs, you can sign up to be on my subscription list. just enter your email address in the box underneath the Blog Archive sidebar over on the upper right side of this page and you'll always be in the know when something new goes live in the future!📧
want to vote in some polls? there's plenty of new ones on the site now under the About Me sidebar! take a guess as to how many HR and RBI Michael will have in March/April and what his batting average will be for the month once he's activated! you can also predict how many games the Indians will win in March/April and all of 2018, and make the hard decision on whether or not you think they'll win the AL Central Division again!🗹
to see Michael's Cactus League rehab number breakdowns and statistics, please read my Part 2 blog:
Brantley's Cactus League 2018 Rehab #s and My Predictions