Brantley hits milestone with first BP session

Brantley hits milestone with first BP session

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Michael Brantley took his spot in the batting cage on Monday morning and showed off a swing that is more than familiar to Indians fans. After each ball that he put in play on Field 3 at the Tribe's training complex, the outfielder kept his head down.

If any baseballs hit by Brantley cleared the fence in his first on-field batting practice session of the spring, he didn't know about it.

"I didn't look. I tried not to look," Brantley said with a smile. "One thing that I can do is get too excited, and swing too hard, so I just wanted to stay under control today."

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There is plenty of reason for the Indians to be excited, though.

Brantley, who is working his way back from August surgery on his right biceps, following an attempted comeback last season from a right shoulder operation, is back to a normal Spring Training work day. His daily volume of swings ranges from 110-130, depending on how the left fielder feels, and he is a full participant in drills with his fellow outfielders.

Moving beyond the solitary portion of his rehab schedule was a welcomed change for Brantley.

"It's great just to kind of go through a normal day," Brantley said. "I got to do everything with the team today. Taking BP on the field, there's always some butterflies, some first-time jitters, excitement to be back on the field with everybody. It all went well."

Indians general manager Mike Chernoff monitored Brantley's BP workout and was pleased to see the outfielder's progress.

"It's obviously been a while since we've seen him out here," Chernoff said. "He looks good."

Cleveland's training staff will gauge how Brantley feels on Tuesday morning before planning his next step. He will need to go through a series of normal workouts before advancing to facing live pitching. There remains no firm timetable for Brantley's return to game action, but he has responded positively to each benchmark in his comeback to date.

"He's had a build-up through his entire rehab process and hit every check mark along the way," Chernoff said. "The next big hurdle for him is when he starts to see live pitching. He's got to get through a couple more things first before he does that. The first day out on the field looked great, but that will be the big hurdle for him once he hits that.

Last spring, Brantley did not begin taking normal BP until the second week of March.

"With everything that we lived through last year -- the ups and the downs of that process," Chernoff said, "it's really good to see just the consistency of how well he's doing after every one of his sessions. So, his volume has really picked up in the batting cage and then obviously he got out here today, so everything's been really positive."

Brantley admitted, though, that it will take more repetitions for his swing to feel completely normal again.

"With anything, it's going to take time," Brantley said. "As soon as you get back on the field, it's a different atmosphere. Youre going to have to get some reps under your belt. I just look forward to being back out there pain-free with my teammates. Day 1 of BP, I'm happy with it, and we'll go from there."

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.