GOODYEAR, Ariz. (AP) Indians outfielder Michael Brantley has cleared one of the biggest hurdles in his offseason rehab.
Brantley took batting practice on a field for the first time this offseason on Friday, marking his clearance to take part in all baseball activities.
Having reached the last leg of his offseason hitting program, Brantley, who had surgery to repair a torn labrum in November, should soon be ready to take part in spring training games.
''I think we're getting to the point now, where it's building up endurance and strength and stamina and also then seeing pitches,'' Indians manager Terry Francona said.
While he was cleared to take batting practice earlier this week, Brantley stayed in the cages for his offensive work until finally taking the field. He had been building up from no-contact swings, to a tee to soft toss in recent weeks.
Francona, who has watched Brantley work at the team's spring training facility, expressed his excitement in watching Brantley reach the big milestone.
''Everybody is so pleased with how it's gone,'' Francona said. ''He's done such a good job.''
While Brantley wants to play in Cleveland's opener on April 4, it appears unlikely that the outfielder will be able to do so. He still must work his way back into game shape before being inserted in a regular-season lineup.
If Brantley feels he's able to play when opening day rolls around, however, Francona will listen to him.
''We don't want to hold him back,'' Francona said. ''He asked us to trust him and that's really not a very hard thing to do.''
Any setback with Brantley's shoulder could alter any plans, but Francona isn't worried about that hypothetical scenario.
''I don't foresee any complications moving forward,'' Francona said, ''just because he's doing so well.''