CLEVELAND: The visual representation of Michael Brantley’s lost season has now taken the form of a black sling, the one holding up his right arm, the one that he’ll wear for six weeks before getting ready for next season.
His attempt to return to the Indians’ lineup this season was ended on Aug. 15, when he underwent surgery in Dallas to address bicep tendinitis. It ended a long, frustrating season of recovery from offseason shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum.
Brantley has been back in the clubhouse this week. He was given a timeline of four months to recover from the surgery.
“It was tough, but at the same time, I knew I did everything in my power to get back this year,” Brantley said. “I tried multiple times, as we all know. It just didn’t work out for me. So, I kind of had to accept the hand that I was dealt and go from there.”
Brantley’s original timetable from his November surgery put his return around early May. Instead, he’ll end 2016 with just 11 games played. Despite the setbacks, an outpatient procedure and eventually the second surgery, Brantley doesn’t think his rehab was mishandled.
“Not at all. I feel like I did everything in my power and so did the Cleveland organization,” he said. “I felt great at times, and then at times I didn’t feel so well. It’s something that just happened. I’m not happy that it happened. I wanted to be out there and playing with my team, of course. At the same time, this is the cards that I was dealt. I understand that. But I did everything within this organization that they asked me to do, and I know I gave it my all, myself. So I don’t think it was mishandled at all.”
Spring camp goal
Brantley’s goal is to be ready to go when spring camp opens in Goodyear, Ariz., in February. It’s one of the reasons he and the Indians didn’t wait to get the surgery once it was determined it was needed.
“You just have extra time now. I know it’s a four-month rehab, but at the same time, I have a little bit of extra just in case,” he said. “I don’t have to rush it or anything to get back. My main goal is, when I come into spring training Day One, I don’t have any limited abilities. I want to be able to play from the time they say, ‘Play ball.’ The first day I get there, I don’t want [any] restrictions at all, and just have a normal, easy camp going into it, so I can get built up like I normally do. I think it’s going to be very important to do it that way.”
He’ll essentially be a spectator as the Indians continue their run toward the postseason and, possibly, try to advance deep into October.
It’s turned Brantley, as he says, into a “superfan,” someone who’s there as a cheerleader and a reference when needed. It’s now his role with the 2016 Indians.
“I still feel like I’m almost there in the game sometimes, but I’m rooting from the couch when they’re on the road trip and I’m not being able to be there for them,” he said. “I just turn into basically a superfan. But that’s all right, because I get the chance to talk with them, text with them, still be in this locker room and be in this atmosphere, and just do anything I can to help a young guy with any questions they have, or anything. I’m here for them.”
Ryan Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Indians blog at www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/RyanLewisABJ.