September 30, 2015

CLEVELAND (AP) The Cleveland Indians will finish the regular season without their best player.

Left fielder Michael Brantley has been shut down for the final seven games because of a sore right shoulder.

Brantley injured the shoulder trying to make a diving catch last week in Minnesota. He sat out four games, but played Sunday and Monday, going hitless in both games. He wasn't in the lineup Tuesday - a game that was postponed by rain - and was examined a doctor. An MRI revealed inflammation and Brantley got a cortisone shot Wednesday.

Manager Terry Francona met with Brantley, who has also been dealing with a sore back since spring training, before the first game of Wednesday's double-header against Minnesota.

''He has given everything he has,'' Francona said. ''It's the right thing to do now. I think he knows it. I don't think he likes it, but I think he understands it. I appreciate how much he tried to play (but) you also have a responsibility to take care of your guys, too.''

Brantley, who finished third in the AL MVP voting last season, is batting .310 with 15 homers and 84 RBIs in 137 games. Francona knew he was hurting by watching him in Monday's game.

''The other night after his first at-bat, I know it was bothering him,'' Francona said. ''He didn't say a word, but when I was talking to him later, I said, `that hurt when you missed, didn't it and he said, yep.'''

Cleveland's chances of reaching the postseason were already slim. The Indians entered Wednesday trailing Los Angeles by five games for the second wild-card spot in the AL. Cleveland is also behind Houston and Minnesota.

Francona said the decision for Brantley to have the cortisone shot now is so he can began his offseason routine soon.

''Whenever the rest period is over, he'll ramp it back up just to make sure everything feels good,'' Francona said. ''That will be a week, 10 days away just so we know when he goes into the offseason he's not fighting that and he can go about his normal program.''

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