Brantley gets forearm stitches removed

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Indians are counting on another solid season from Michael Brantley, so taking a cautious approach with his recent forearm injury has been important. Cleveland wants to be sure the left fielder is fully recovered and prepared for Opening Day.

On Thursday, Brantley had the stitches removed from his forearm -- he needed 15 to close a laceration suffered earlier this spring -- and was a full participant in the club's morning workout. Indians manager Terry Francona said Brantley might be ready to resume playing in games by Sunday.

"We'll let him probably go a couple days," Francona said, "where he does everything on the field, running the bases, taking balls off the bat, and then maybe Sunday we'll get him in a game. Maybe we'll start him for three or four innings. I think that's probably pretty reasonable."

Brantley, 25, was spiked on the left forearm by A's third baseman Josh Donaldson in a road game against Oakland on Feb. 25. Cleveland's left fielder was sliding headfirst into third base when Donaldson, hustling to get back to the bag ahead of the runner, accidentally stepped on Brantley's arm.

The Indians initially said Brantley would be sidelined from games for a period of seven to 10 days. Thursday marked the 10th day in his recovery. Over the past few days, Brantley had already resumed hitting and throwing drills.

Last season, Brantley hit .288 with a .348 on-base percentage and a .402 slugging percentage in 149 games for Cleveland. Along the way, he collected six home runs, 37 doubles, four triples, 60 RBIs, 12 stolen bases and 63 runs scored.

In three Cactus League games this spring, Brantley went 5-for-6 at the plate with four doubles, three runs and two RBIs.

Brantley served as the Tribe's starting center fielder last season, but the signing of center fielder and leadoff man Michael Bourn has forced him to shift back to left field. Prior to last year, Brantley split his time between left and center in parts of three previous seasons with Cleveland.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.