Sheldon Ocker

GOODYEAR, Ariz.: It will be a while before Michael Brantley plays left field in the Indians’ outfield.

After Brantley got spiked by Josh Donaldson trying to slide into third on Monday against the Athletics, he was taken to Good Samaritan Hospital, where it took 15 stitches (five internal, 10 external) to close the wound near his left elbow.

Brantley came to the Tribe’s practice facility Tuesday with his arm immobilized and said he didn’t know when the stitches would be removed.

“I don’t really care about that,” he said. “I care about how long I’m going to be out.”

Manager Terry Francona answered that question.

“We’re looking at about three days where he doesn’t do anything but let the wound heal,” Francona said. “After that, he’ll slowly return to some activity. We definitely want this to heal properly. That probably will take around 10 days.

“It’s not going to alter anything. It just gave him a little scare.”

Brantley began the exhibition season by almost tearing the cover off the ball. In three games, he was 5-for-6 with four doubles and two RBI.

“I wish we could bottle where his swing is at,” Francona said. “His first four swings were almost perfect.”

While Brantley is out, Francona will spread around the at-bats in left field.

“It will give us a chance to let other guys play,” the manager said.

Masterson in opener

Not surprisingly, Justin Masterson will start the season opener in Toronto on April 21.

It will be the second year in a row that Masterson has received the honor of being the first Tribe starter out of the blocks. Francona told Masterson in the dugout before the game.

“I was hoping for it,” Masterson said. “Tito [Francona] told me there were some things that might be a possibility, and it turned out to be true.

“It’s exciting. It’s where I want to be, the first guy out there to set the tone.”

Francona said last week he was in no hurry to name his Opening Day starter.

“I’m still not in a rush,” the manager said. “But we knew what we were going to do. I think he’s the leader of our staff. We want him to be the leader, and he’s taken on that responsibility.”

With Masterson No. 1 in the rotation, Ubaldo Jimenez almost certainly will be No. 2.

“Those things will fall into place,” Francona said.

First defeat

After five consecutive wins to start the exhibition season, the Tribe lost a 4-1 decision to the Royals at Goodyear Ballpark.

The lone meaningful hit was struck by Matt Carson, who homered for the second time in the spring. Jason Kipnis and Cord Phelps doubled, but the offense generated only five hits.

It was an all-reliever day on the mound, with Giovanni Soto the sole pitcher to struggle. In two-thirds of an inning, he allowed three hits, two runs and two walks. In two appearances, he has given up seven runs and six hits in 1? innings.

Keep in mind that he pitched at Double-A last year and is only 21.

More than just steals

The Indians’ newfound speed — with Michael Bourn and Drew Stubbs — will do more than steal bases. Both players can bunt their way on base.

Last year, Bourn had seven bunt hits, 11 fewer than in 2009, when he set his career high of 18. Stubbs bunted for singles six times, which ranks as his season best.

Francona’s take: “If they can get on base, they can do anything they want.”

Marching onward

The Indians remain in Goodyear to play the Mariners today. Brett Myers will start against Danny Hultzen.

Sheldon Ocker can be reached at socker@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the Indians blog at https://ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SheldonOckerABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.