Brantley breaking out after slow start

Brantley breaking out after slow start

CLEVELAND -- Michael Brantley has struggled out of the gate this season, forcing Indians manager Manny Acta to occasionally move him out of the leadoff spot in the lineup.

But Brantley's slow start seems to be a thing of the past.

Entering Thursday, the Indians center fielder was hitting .326 (29 of 89) with nine doubles and 10 RBIs in his last 22 games, dating back to April 25. Brantley improved his batting average from .196 to .276 during that span, and he has sparked the Indians from numerous spots in the lineup.

"Michael just gives you quality at-bats," Acta said. "He got in a deep hole at the beginning of the season, but he doesn't panic."

Brantley has hit fifth, sixth and seventh, in addition to the leadoff spot this season. He's hitting only .237 in the top spot, but is a sizzling .346 anywhere else in the order.

"When he gets guys on base, he can pick up those cheap RBIs and then give you quality at-bats when guys are in scoring position with two outs," Acta said. "He can start a rally if he's leading off the inning. He's very versatile for us, and I value his at-bats."