MLB PLAYER NEWS

Indians’ Brantley not close to being ready to play

Sports Xchange

February 16, 2017 at 2:08 pm.

Jul 22, 2015; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Cleveland Indians center fielder Michael Brantley (23) hits a three-run home run in the third inning against the Milwaukee Brewers  at Miller Park. Photo Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Jul 22, 2015; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Cleveland Indians center fielder Michael Brantley (23) hits a three-run home run in the third inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park. Photo Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Indians outfielder Michael Brantley isn’t close to being ready to play in spring training games and his availability for the start of the regular season is also in jeopardy, according to manager Terry Francona.

Brantley is recovering from surgery to repair a torn right biceps. He played in just 11 games last season due to a shoulder injury and underwent the biceps surgery in August.

The Indians advanced to the World Series without Brantley, who finished third in the American League MVP balloting in 2014.

“He’s following the protocols the medical people put in place,” Francona told reporters. “By all accounts, he’s doing everything. This kid has worked his (tail) off. We just need to be patient and allow him to try to get to the point where he can not only come back, but stay back.

“After not having him for a whole year, he deserves to do it right. He’s worked so hard, and to have him back will be so nice. We’re going to do it right so he can have his best chance to be successful.”

Francona doesn’t have a timetable for when the 29-year-old Brantley will start playing in spring-training games.

“I don’t think that’s fair to him,” Francona said. “We all see how hard he’s working. I think we’re just going to go off of him. As he gets things accomplished with the proper amount of intensity, he’ll move on to something else. I think that’s the timetable we need to abide by.”

Brantley has a .292 career average with 61 homers and 400 RBIs in eight seasons with the Indians. He batted. 327 with 20 homers and 97 RBIs during his All-Star season of 2014 and batted .310 with 15 homers and 84 RBIs in 2015 before his injury plagued season of last year.