CLEVELAND -- Michael Brantley's long road back from a right ankle sprain may finally be nearing an end.
Indians manager Terry Francona said on Wednesday that the club is targeting the weekend as a potential return for Brantley. Francona noted the team wants to give Brantley the opportunity to play in a regular-season game before the Indians set their 25-man roster for the American League Division Series presented by Doosan, which begins on Oct. 5..
"We're trying to give him every chance possible so we can make a good decision," Francona said. "He'll be included in that."
Francona said that Brantley is working through a running-progression program planned by the Indians' training staff, and will continue to do so Thursday and Friday. The All-Star left fielder participated in a simulated game and did some light running prior to Wednesday's game against the Twins at Progressive Field.
Francona said Brantley will have to clear a couple hurdles before he gets in a game.
"Brant is working up to where, Thursday, Friday, he's going to try to get out there," Francona said. "And we'll see where he's at and see if he's able to get in a game, and kind of go from there.
"Every day when he gets done, he'll go in and check with the trainers and see how he feels."
With Bradley Zimmer (broken left hand) most likely out for the remainder of the regular season and Brandon Guyer dealing with a wrist injury, Brantley may be returning to a team that is currently carrying seven outfielders -- Jay Bruce, Jason Kipnis, Greg Allen, Lonnie Chisenhall, Tyler Naquin, Abraham Almonte and Austin Jackson.
Although Brantley's health will be a key factor for the Indians when deciding the ALDS roster, the Tribe can certainly use his bat. Before sustaining his ankle injury on Aug. 8, Brantley posted a .299/.358/.445 line with nine homers, 20 doubles, 52 RBIs, 47 runs scored and 31 walks in 88 games.
• Francona said that Zimmer -- who underwent surgery on his broken hand on Sept. 12 -- got his stitches removed. While Zimmer is "thrilled" to sit in the dugout with his teammates again, Francona said that the No. 1 priority is to get the center fielder healthy, rather than rushing him back for the postseason.
"We're more pointed towards getting him healthy," Francona said. "And his normal progression, you're going to see him in a couple weeks start to probably grip a bat, things like that. That's more important. You never say never, but I don't think that's what the goal is right now."
• Chisenhall (right calf soreness) was available to pinch-hit Wednesday. Francona said that Chisenhall will most likely be in the starting lineup for Thursday's series finale.