Michael Brantley's return date has been one of the most worrying aspects of the Cleveland Indians offseason. It does not matter how many cost-effective, one-year free agents the Indians signed; if they did not have one of their best players until mid-season or later (as Peter Gammons had suggested at one point), 2016 would be a rough year. Things appear to be looking up lately, and Brantley is even back at hitting sessions in Spring Training.
Jordan Bastian posted this blurry photo of
bigfoot Brantley taking some swings, which should be a welcome sight to anyone worried:
Not a great photo, but this is as close as I could get to Brantley's 1st hitting session of spring. Important step. pic.twitter.com/4AufXlV29C— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) February 17, 2016
Also from Bastian, Brantley is not on any kind of a schedule yet, just a day-to-day evaluation of how he feels with a bat in his hand.
Brantley isn't on strict hitting schedule yet. For now, Indians' med and training staff will assess how he feels each day and go from there.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) February 17, 2016
Brantley's injury initially occurred on a diving attempt against the Minnesota Twins on September 22. He played through parts of the rest of the season with the injury, but he was shut down and put on a two-week rehab program in October. It was determined in early November that he would require torn labrum surgery, and his initial timetable was that he would be "game ready" in 5-6 months.
Since then, Indians' fans emotions have been unintentionally toyed with. We have heard anywhere from "oh he'll be fine," to "something went wrong and he'll be out until August." Just recently, Paul Hoynes of Cleveland.com said Brantley's return date was "hazy," but the company line from the Indians has always remained that 5-6 month timetable.