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Michael Brantley's sore back leaves Terry Francona "perplexed"

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Brantley is among the last players the Indians can afford to be without for very long.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Brantley was scratched from the starting lineup for Wednesday night's game after his lower back began bothering him earlier in the day. The same issue plagued Brantley during spring training, leading him to miss some of the early activities in camp, and also to miss five games near the end of March.

Terry Francona is "perplexed" by the situation, and while he'd of course prefer to have the team's best hitter in the lineup, he may sit Brantley out again for Thursday afternoon's series finale, saying "I'd rather it be a day or two than a week or two. He's battled this on and off all spring, so we just want to get a handle on it."

Brantley hit very well in the 15 games he appeared in during spring training, so when he was on the field, his back doesn't seem to have been an issue. Still, it's somewhat concerning that the issue has come up at least three times in the last eight weeks, and despite him having rested for almost a week, and then having had two days in a row off before Opening Day.

Unless he's truly feeling 100% this morning, I think it wise to sit him out today. Either way, it's going to take at least three weeks without any recurrence of the problem before I can put it out of my mind. In Brantley's absence last night, Mike Aviles started in left field. He hit a long home run and collected a base hit as well, but he's not a long-term solution for the starting lineup, nor is playing both David Murphy and Raburn every night.