Tribe encouraged by Brantley's progress

No timetable when left fielder will play in games

Tribe encouraged by Brantley's progress

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Indians have been down this road before, so while there is optimism surrounding the status of Michael Brantley, it is of the cautious variety. For now, Cleveland is simply happy to be dealing with good news about its left fielder.

On Sunday morning, Indians manager Terry Francona indicated that Brantley was feeling good in the wake of his first back-to-back days of taking normal batting practice on the field this spring. Brantley was not scheduled to hit on the field on Sunday, but will resume his hitting progression this week as he continues his comeback from August surgery on his right biceps.

"He's handling everything remarkably well. That's probably the best way we can say it," Francona said. "You can see he's in great shape. He's worked so hard that he's cut. He's worked so hard. We've just kind of got to let it play itself out and not try to rush it. Just give him the best chance to, like I say, when he gets back, to stay back. That's probably the biggest thing."

Brantley, who was limited to only 11 games last season due to right shoulder and biceps issues, will need to hit in a series of live BP rounds before he is cleared to play in Cactus League games, according to Francona. There is not, however, a firm date planned for the simulated sessions or Brantley's spring debut. The Indians do not want to place target dates on Brantley's return.

"That's by design," Francona said. "That's just not fair to him to ever do that. When the medical people feel like he's ready, we'll find a sim game for him, believe me."

Jackson nearing spring debut

Francona noted that outfielder Austin Jackson might be cleared to make his Cactus League debut for the Indians as early as Wednesday. The center fielder has spent the past few weeks going through a rehab program, following arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee on June 15 of last season.

"We're looking forward to it," Francona said. "I think he's worked so hard and the timetable is maybe a little better than what was throught at the beginning, which is good, because then we can get a longer look. It'll let him get his feet under him, too, because it's been a while since he's played.

"I wouldn't be surprised if it's a hard evaluation, just because he hasn't played, it's Spring Training, he's coming off an injury. There's a lot of things to think about."

The Indians signed the 30-year-old Jackson to a Minor League contract with a spring invite on Jan. 25, adding him to the spring outfield competition. Due to the knee injury, Jackson was limited to only 54 games last year after serving as the Opening Day center fielder for the White Sox.

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for 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.