CLEVELAND: Michael Brantley knows his father is watching and for him, that's a good thing.
Mickey Brantley batted .259 in a four-year big-league career with the Mariners, finally ending his playing days with a stint in Japan. He moved on to coaching and managing in the Giants and Mets farms systems before briefly landing a job as hitting coach in Toronto.
All of this experience qualified Brantley to tell his son a thing or three about baseball. And that's fine with Michael.
"He'll tell me I did an outstanding job or give me constructive criticism,'' Brantley said Sunday. "And I can't thank him enough for it.''
The elder Brantley flew to Detroit to see his son's major-league debut last Tuesday and followed him to Cleveland for the Indians' weekend series against the Twins.
Considering that Michael is batting .375 with two RBI and four runs in his six-game big-league career, maybe Dad should think about remaining with his son for the rest of the season, if not longer.
But Mickey will head home today, and Michael's mother, Nina, will take his place.
Keeping up with his son's career obviously is an important part of Mickey Brantley's life. He watched as many of Michael's minor-league games as he could on his computer. Several clubs, including Columbus, where Michael spent most of the season, air a large chunk of their schedules on line.
"He watched every one he could watch,'' Michael said. ""That's how I got the criticism. That's how I learned. There have probably been only one or two days all year when I didn't talk to my parents.''
And what advice does Mickey stress most?
"Play hard and have fun,'' Michael said.
He's done that so far. In the Tribe's 3-1 win Sunday, Brantley singled and scored the tying run then drove in the go-ahead run with a single.
On his second hit, Brantley purposely rounded first and got in a rundown to make sure the throw from the outfield wouldn't go to the plate, allowing Luis Valbuena to score easily.
The strategy is employed often, but seldom does the runner foil the rundown. But in chasing Brantley toward second base, Michael Cuddyer dropped the ball as he tagged Brantley.
"I was just trying to make sure the run scored,'' he said. I was lucky I was able to do it (avoid a tag).''
Indians Manager Eric Wedge likes what he's seen from Brantley, but he refuses to be too effusive with his praise, because rookies almost always run into hard times at some point.
""Michael impacted the game today, no doubt about that,'' Wedge said. ""He showed a lot of atheticism in that rundown. He drove in one run and scored another. That was the separator for us today.''
IN FOR THE LONG HAUL -- Wedge previously said that David Huff would be shut down once he pitched 160-170 innings (including time in the minors).
That no longer is the case, because with a six-man rotation, Huff already lost one start and might lose another, which means he can finish the season on the mound.
"I'm in uncharted territory,'' he said after beating the Twins Sunday 3-1. "This (many innings) is new to me, and I'm enjoying it. And physically I'm right there.''
Huff has pitched 147 2/3 innings. If he receives four more starts and averages six innings, his total would rise to 171 2/3, within the acceptable range.
"From what they said, I'm getting an extra day off,'' Huff said. ""I guess I'm starting Saturday.''
Asked if Huff would stay in the rotation for the duration, Wedge said, ""He should be OK.''
KEEPING THEM GUESSING -- There might not be another manager in the majors who mixes and matches his players as often as Wedge.
For example, the Tribe has used eight different players in the fifth spot in the order, 12 players to bat sixth, 13 in the seventh and eighth slots and 11 in the ninth spot, excluding pitchers.
OTHER STUFF -- Michael Brantley has hit safely in all six of his big-league games. No Tribe player has had a longer streak to start a career since Josh Bard hit in nine in a row in 2002... The Indians are 5-48 when they score three or fewer runs; the Twins 11-43. *elip Since Aug. 1, Asdrubal Cabrera is batting .351 with 16 RBI in 33 games... Tony Sipp has given up one run and struck out 19 in his past 16 appearances (142/3 IP).
FARM FACTS -- Donnie Webb had two hits, raising his average to .429, but Columbus lost 4-3 to Toledo. Webb was called up recently after spending most of the season at Lake County... Delvi Cid and John Allman each had two hits in Lake County's 6-5 loss to Hagerstown.