The Cleveland Indians have announced that Michael Brantley will begin a rehab assignment with Double-A Akron on Tuesday.
Brantley had surgery on his non-throwing shoulder at the beginning of his offseason, and was initially expected to be out for all of April, and perhaps even longer. There were multiple reports from spring training about his recovery going well, and while he was briefly shut down a few weeks ago due to some soreness, it wasn't anything significant, and he's clearly close to ready to rejoin the team, only one week into the season.
Minor league rehab assignments generally only last 2-4 games, which means Brantley could be back with the Tribe by Friday's series opener against the Mets. With weather postponements striking the team twice during the first week, Brantley might only miss seven games, which would be a fantastic turn of events from what was expected when pitchers and catchers reported to Goodyear in February. Even if he takes a few extra days and waits until after the weekend, he'd only have missed ten games. Him being 100% is more important than him rushing back, so I imagine the team will give him the time they think is needed.
Brantley has been the team's best hitter over the last couple years, with a .319/.382/.494 batting line during that time; his return should boost the lineup and solidify a shaky outfield situation for the team. Fellow projected-starting outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall should also be back this week, providing a smaller, but still potentially important improvement to the roster.