Following Cleveland Indians outfielder Michael Brantley having shoulder surgery November 9 of last year, many rumors began circulating. Would he be ready for Spring Training? Would he be 100 percent for Opening Day? If he misses the beginning of the season, when will he actually make his return?
Well, he did (somehow) make it back for Opening Day, but he only played in the team's first 11 games of the season and hasn't played since. Brantley (and whoever decided that he was good to play) appears to have rushed back into the lineup way too quick, and now that we're in mid-July, the 29-year-old has suffered yet another setback. After making rehab appearances in the minor leagues, his shoulder seems to still be giving him problems. Prior to Tuesday's game in Kansas City, manager Terry Francona admitted that Brantley informed the team that he is experiencing discomfort in his shoulder yet again, per mlb.com's Jordan Bastian.
"He swung in one of his at-bats the other night and he felt his shoulder again. So, we kind of convened and the way he kind of phrased it to me was, he didn't seem terribly worried about it, he just feels like he's having a tough time pushing through the last little bit [of his swing]."
On July 5, Brantley stated that he felt normal after taking multiple batting practices before the Indians' home games that week. But, after playing in four games for Double-A Akron on an every-other-day schedule that began July 11, he was expected to play in back-to-back games to test out his shoulder during the weekend but never did so after he was held out of the RubberDucks lineup on Monday.
Following the news, general manager Chris Antonetti also commented on the setback, admitting that although it's hard to hear, the team will continue to monitor how Brantley is feeling and go from there.
"We're going off by how Michael is feeling," said president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti. "Michael was really encouraged, as he was working through this progression. Each step of the way, he was feeling healthy and strong. The other day, he just developed a little bit of soreness. We now need to hit the pause button and see what the next steps are."
With the news, the Indians have halted the All-Star's rehab assignment as of right now and he will have a precautionary MRI on Wednesday to get a closer and more precise look at what exactly is going on with his shoulder.
While many of you may question the fact that the Indians allowed Brantley to return for the first 11 games of the season or even why they held off his surgery until early November when the season ended a couple months earlier, what's done is done. Now, let's just hope that Brantley can in fact return this season and help this team contend for a top spot in the American League playoffs and World Series.