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Spring Training Notes 3/31: Michael Brantley likely to make Opening Day roster

Michael Brantley will likely be one of the 25 players travelling to Arlington, Texas for Opening Day on Monday. The IBI's John Alfes brings the news Cleveland Indians fans have all been waiting for...

The final question pertaining to the Indians' Opening Day roster may have been answered on Friday.

In the past 326 days, Michael Brantley has been assigned to countless rehab assignments, underwent season-ending biceps surgery and took a step-by-step approach in a three-month hitting progression with the intention to be ready for Game 1 of the 2017 campaign.

His year-long goal to play again is close to being achieved.

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- Although manager Terry Francona does not have to announce his 25-man roster until Sunday, he all but guaranteed Brantley a spot with the big league ballclub at the outset of the regular season.

"We're not trying to keep it a secret," said Francona to reporters. "We're taking 25 guys and he's one of them."

Brantley batted .385/.429/.629 (10-for-26) with two doubles, two home runs and a 1.121 OPS in eight Cactus League games.

"He's such a good kid and he's such a good teammate," Francona said. "He's so much a part of what we want to do."

"It's very appreciated that people understand that I didn't give up," said Brantley.

- Jason Kipnis has reportedly been throwing at 100+ feet and continues to progress with his drills in the batting cage. The 29-year-old has no target date for return, but "turned a corner" about 10 days ago, according to MLB.com's Jordan Bastian.

- In order to prepare for their 2017 debuts next weekend against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Josh Tomlin and Trevor Bauer logged four and five innings respectively in minor league action on Friday in Arizona.

- Wily Mo Pena (Thursday) and James Russell (Friday) have been released and will pursue an opportunity elsewhere.

John Alfes has covered the Indians for IBI since August of 2016. Follow him on Twitter @JohnAlfes for breaking news and in-depth coverage all season long.

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