Brantley won't play in Tribe's first spring games

Brantley won't play in Tribe's first spring games

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Indians are not expecting left fielder Michael Brantley to be ready for game action when the team begins its Cactus League schedule later this month. Manager Terry Francona reiterated Wednesday that Brantley will not return to the lineup until he is deemed fully ready.

Cleveland's first Spring Training game is on Feb. 25 against the Reds.

"That's too quick," Francona said. "He's worked so hard and to have him back will be so nice. It's just, we're going to do it right, so he can have his best chance to be successful."

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Brantley, who underwent right biceps surgery on Aug. 15, continues to hit off a tee in the early stages of Spring Training for the Indians. Last season, the team's star left fielder was limited to only 11 games due to a series of setbacks both with his right shoulder and biceps. The Indians are hoping to avoid the start-and-stall process that plagued Brantley's 2016 campaign.

"He's following the protocols that the medical people put in place," Francona said. "We just need to be patient. We need to allow him to try to get to the point where he can not only come back, but stay back. ... All you can do is, you ask him to do what he's supposed to do, and he's been like the model patient. So, if it can be done, he's going to get it done."

Francona on 2017 mindset

Other items of note from Wednesday:

• Outfielder Austin Jackson is in camp with Cleveland as a non-roster invitee, but he is still working his way back from the left knee surgery that he had in June. Both Francona and Chris Antonetti, the Indians' president of baseball operations, noted Wednesday that Jackson is behind the rest of the position players. Francona estimated that Jackson might be 10-14 days behind the pack.

"I don't know if we really quite know," Francona said of Jackson's timetable. "Some of it I think we'll have to almost guard him from him, because he wants to come in and show what he can do and he feels good. But, it's different when you get into a camp and it's pounding every day. So, we'll keep an eye on him."

Carlos Santana and Mike Napoli split time between first base and designated hitter last season for the Indians, who will have a similar setup with Santana and Edwin Encarnacion in '17. What Francona has not determined is whether Santana or Encarnacion will be the primary first baseman, or if it will be more evenly split.

"I don't have that answer, yet," Francona said. "Obviously, we value defense. But, if there's a way to keep both of them healthy and productive the most, that would probably be the biggest combination. Obviously, I know Carlos really well. I need to talk to Edwin a little bit, too. And I haven't done that, yet."

• As of right now, Francona said the Indians plan on keeping Jose Ramirez at third base during workouts. There are no current plans to get the versatile infielder reps in left field, where he played some in Brantley's absence last year. Later in camp, Ramirez will also likely see some innings at shortstop, where he is the backup to Francisco Lindor.

• Pitchers Boone Logan, Ryan Merritt and Kyle Crockett did not participate in Wednesday's endurance test for pitchers and catchers. Logan was held out due to his recent signing and arrival to camp, while Merritt (shin) and Crockett (back) sat out for precautionary reasons.

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 listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.