Brantley has his swing primed in spring again

Brantley has his swing primed in spring again

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Given the simple nature of Michael Brantley's swing, the Indians left fielder has to guard against getting ready too soon in the winter months. There have been times when Brantley has needed to put the bat back in its rack for a few days.

"I actually have to go in reverse and take a little time away," Brantley said on Monday morning. "You don't want to peak too early. The whole goal for me, and for a lot of guys in this locker room, is to really build up towards the end of camp and really feel your swing and be where you want to go."

During Sunday's 6-3 victory over the Mariners, Brantley churned out three singles in his three trips to the plate. It was the kind of performance Cleveland has grown accustomed to seeing from Brantley during Spring Training, when he typically needs little time to start heating up in the batter's box.

With that showing, Brantley improved his career slash line to .317/.378/.444 in 92 Spring Training games. Last year, the left-handed hitter posted a .354 average in 18 Cactus League games, giving Indians manager Terry Francona his first look at the steady mechanics.

"Hitting is hard, but his mechanics are so simple," Francona said. "I think he probably gets ready quicker more than other guys, because his swing, he can repeat it so often. There's not a lot of moving parts. He did the same thing last year."

Brantley, who inked a five-year extension worth $25 million earlier this spring, said he works with his dad, former Major League outfielder and hitting coach Mickey Brantley, over the offseason. Throughout the years, they have found ways to simplify the left fielder's swing and help him become one of baseball's top contact hitters.

Last season, Brantley led the American League with a 90.1-percent contact rate, which ranked fifth overall in baseball. During the 2012 season, he had a 91.5-percent contact rate, which ranked third in the AL and fourth overall in the Majors among qualifying batters.

In 151 games last year, Brantley hit .284 with 10 home runs, 26 doubles and 73 RBIs for Cleveland.

"We go over and analyze film and break down kind of how my year went," Brantley said of working with his dad each winter. "We make adjustments every offseason. I just try to get better. I'm always looking to improve in every category."

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.