Brantley feeling good, hits first spring homer

Indians outfielder goes deep in first inning Sunday

Brantley feeling good, hits first spring homer

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Michael Brantley stared at the lineup sheet hanging inside the Indians' clubhouse on Sunday morning and did not see his name. The Indians' left fielder then pulled the paper off the wall, and he marched into the team's training room.

A few minutes later, bench coach Brad Mills posted a fresh lineup on the board with Brantley's name in the No. 2 spot and him starting in left field. With one mistake corrected, Brantley then took advantage of another. In the first inning of the Tribe's 6-5 win over the D-backs, the left fielder launched a two-run home run over the right-field wall at Salt River Fields.

Told of Brantley's reaction to the initial lineup, Indians manager Terry Francona laughed.

"That was clerical -- not physical," Francona said of the lineup mishap.

Brantley was supposed to be in the lineup the entire time, but there was some confusion behind the scenes on Sunday morning. Nevertheless, Brantley's response was a strong indicator that he is feeling good in his comeback from right shoulder and biceps problems. The home run took it another step further.

Brantley on his first homer

After Austin Jackson opened the game with a walk, Brantley pulled the second pitch he received from lefty Robbie Ray deep to right to give Cleveland a 2-0 lead. It marked the first homer of the spring for Brantley, who went 1-for-4 and is hitting .313 through 16 Cactus League at-bats.

"It's just the product of a good swing," Brantley said. "You go up there and try to take the most consistent swings as possible -- anything to help the team at that time. Hopefully, the swings get better as this season gets closer."

Sunday's game marked the second in a row for Brantley, who has now appeared in five Cactus League contests. One year ago, when the outfielder was returning from right shoulder surgery, he played in only two spring games and didn't ever play back-to-back days. Brantley was then sidelined for most of the season, playing just 11 games and undergoing right biceps tenodesis surgery in August.

Francona on Brantley's return

While Brantley's progress this spring has been more encouraging than last preseason, Cleveland is still not ready to declare he will be ready for Opening Day.

"In the grand scheme of things," Francona said earlier this week, "as long as he's healthy, we're in good shape. And that's kind of how I've been looking at it. He's come so far that Opening Day, in my opinion, is not the finish line for him. I know it's something everybody shoots for -- I get it -- but as long as he maintains his health and he feels good, we're all going to be happy."

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.