Indians' Brantley hits moving ball for 1st time since injury

GOODYEAR, Ariz. (AP) Cleveland outfielder Michael Brantley hit moving baseballs on Monday, marking the first time he's been able to do that since undergoing surgery in November on his right shoulder.

The All-Star had been limited to no-contact swings and hitting balls off a tee since arriving at the Indians' spring training complex in February.

Brantley took part in a drill that involved hitting balls tossed toward him by a coach.

Brantley is recovering from a torn labrum. He is fully able participate in all baseball activities outside of hitting. He felt the hitting drill went well.

''It's more of the fact of just finding the contact point of my swing to make sure the ball's getting deep and into the zone I want,'' Brantley said.

Each week should mark a new milestone in Brantley's progress, according to the rehabilitation schedule that has been laid out for him.

''Everything is going well, which I'm very thankful for,'' Brantley said. ''We do a great job of communicating back and forth, how I'm feeling, what we're going to do today, how certain activities or certain things put stress on my shoulder and how I responded from it.''

Indians manager Terry Francona has mentioned on multiple occasions that Brantley is working hard and progressing toward an early return, but feels that it's unfair to put forth a timetable for him as he continues his rehabilitation.

''I think the biggest thing is that he's doing really good,'' Francona said. ''Regardless of whether it's a week early, in somebody's estimate a week late, he's doing really well. That's the important thing.''

Brantley insists that he is still aiming to get back to the Indians by opening day on April 4, but he realizes that might a rather unrealistic date.

While early April may not be possible, Brantley is hoping to return to the field before the June date that was expected following surgery.

''I want to be back as soon as I can,'' Brantley said. ''The sooner I can get out there with (my teammates), the happier I'm going to be.''

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