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Brantley adjusts as Damon debuts at leadoff

Brantley adjusts as Damon debuts at leadoff

Brantley adjusts as Damon debuts at leadoff
CHICAGO -- Michael Brantley headed into this season looking forward to the challenge of being the Indians' everyday leadoff man, but the young center fielder is now being asked to share those duties with newly acquired outfielder Johnny Damon.

On Wednesday, Indians manager Manny Acta gave Damon the nod as the leadoff man for his Cleveland debut, dropping Brantley to the seventh spot in the lineup in the process. One thing is clear: Brantley is happy to have a veteran like Damon as a teammate.

"He's phenomenal," Brantley said. "We talked a little bit already. He's just a class-act person. He's already taking young guys in and teaching them some things. We were talking about different situations already. He's a pleasure to have."

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Asked about moving out of the leadoff spot, though, and this is the response Brantley offered:

"That's a better question for Manny," Brantley said.

Told that Brantley deferred to him, Acta smiled and said the center fielder was willing to do "whatever it takes to help the team."

Acta has made it clear that the 38-year-old Damon, who boasts a .353 career on-base percentage, will serve as the leadoff man in the games he plays. On Wednesday, the manager would not commit to using Brantley in the No. 1 spot for the games that Damon is on the bench.

Through 19 games, Brantley was hitting .238 with a .307 on-base percentage. The 24-year-old has been performing better of late, however. Entering Wednesday, Brantley had hit .333 (8-for-24) with a .385 on-base percentage in his past six games.

For Wednesday's game against the White Sox, Acta also moved second baseman Jason Kipnis back into the second slot and dropped right fielder Shin-Soo Choo -- the No. 3 hitter for most of this season -- to the sixth hole. Choo was back in the lineup after missing the previous six games with a mild left hamstring injury.

As for Brantley, he said he is only worried about what he can control.

"My job is to come here and just play baseball," he said. "And just play hard each and every day."

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