Although it appears to be minor, the Indians need the healthiest Brantley on the field they can get
There’s never really a “good time” for an injury, but for the Cleveland Indians now is probably the worst time for it to happen. Michael Brantley left yesterday’s game with a sore right shoulder after making a diving attempt at a ball. It doesn’t appear to be severe, as he stayed in the game after the play; but he couldn’t get extended at the plate so skipper Terry Francona pulled him to get him into the locker room and get ice on it.
"“He jammed his shoulder and it was hard for him to get extended when he was hitting, so we got him in, got him iced,” Francona told reporters. “He’s already talking about playing tomorrow, so we’ll see. We’ll see how he shows up.”"
The fact that Brantley is feeling well enough to think he could play on Wednesday is good news, but even if the shoulder is simply sore for a few days it isn’t good news. At just 2 1/2 games behind their current opponent, the Minnesota Twins–and 4 1/2 back of the Houston Astros–the Indians are going to need Brantley at 100% down the stretch.
Brantley’s batting .314 with 15 home runs and 84 knocked in while slugging .486. He’s followed up a season in which he finished third in the MVP voting with another that’s just about as good. He’s become one of the best in the game, and the Indians know how important it is to have him healthy, but there isn’t much time left to rest. If not serious–which it doesn’t appear–Brantley may have to play at less than full-strength to help the Tribe make a final push for the second Wild Card.
There are no off-days left, and the tribe has six games remaining with the Twins who are right in front of them in the race. As much as Francona may like to rest Brantley and his shoulder–the old phrase of “playing hurt, not injured” is almost sure to apply here.
The Indians MUST have Brantley on the field to have a chance.