Brantley may miss start of 2016

Published 1:53 am Tuesday, November 10, 2015

CLEVELAND (AP) — Indians outfielder Michael Brantley will likely miss the start of next season following right shoulder surgery.

The team said Brantley, Cleveland’s best all-around player, won’t be ready “for game activity” for 5 to 6 months after undergoing an arthroscopic procedure on Monday in Wilmington, Delaware. Brantley, who throws left-handed, had a small tear repaired in his right labrum.

Indians trainer James Quinlan said the goal is to have Brantley ready for the April 4 season opener against Boston, but he may need more time to get completely healthy.

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“We need to be prepared for him to miss part of April,” he said.

Brantley injured his shoulder trying to make a diving catch in Minnesota on Sept. 22. He received a cortisone shot and tried to play down the stretch as the Indians fought for a wild-card berth. However, the shoulder didn’t respond and the Indians eventually shut him down in the final week after they were eliminated from the playoff chase.

Following the season, Brantley and the Indians had hoped surgery would not be necessary. But after completing a rehab program under the direction Quinlan and the team’s medical staff, his symptoms didn’t subside. He consulted with Dr. Craig Morgan, who recommended and performed the surgery.

Quinlan said Brantley will not be able to swing a bat until March, and even that timetable is loosely based on him building up strength in his shoulder. The Indians will report to spring training in February, when Brantley will slowly work his way through a hitting program.

The 28-year-old Brantley battled injuries throughout last season. He still managed to bat .310 with 15 homers, an AL-leading 45 doubles and 84 RBIs in 137 games — the fewest he’s played since 2011.

“He’s unbelievable,” Quinlan said of Brantley’s drive. “He comes to the field every day and really works his tail off to play through everything — with injuries or soreness, things like that. He has a great feel for where he needs to get to to be productive on the field. It’s impressive.”

Brantley had a breakout season in 2014, when he batted .327, made the All-Star team and finished third in MVP voting.

He began last season dealing with a sore back that flared up during spring training and Brantley also dealt with a left shoulder issue.

Quinlan said Brantley is committed to his rehab and told the team he is willing to spend a “good chunk” of his offseason in Cleveland to recover.