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Recovering Brantley gets first spring at-bats

Returning from ankle surgery, All-Star outfielder has progressed nicely
Special to MLB.com

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Indians outfielder Michael Brantley got his first two spring plate appearances as a designated hitter in a Minor League game on Wednesday.

Brantley, who is returning from right ankle surgery, has had no limitations swinging a bat, but hadn't begun running the bases or participating in fielding drills until this week.

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GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Indians outfielder Michael Brantley got his first two spring plate appearances as a designated hitter in a Minor League game on Wednesday.

Brantley, who is returning from right ankle surgery, has had no limitations swinging a bat, but hadn't begun running the bases or participating in fielding drills until this week.

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"He's doing really well," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "We're still debating on maybe how extensive his morning is, but he's doing well. I think how he responds to what he's done [will impact what he does]."

Brantley missed all but 11 games of the 2016 season after undergoing offseason surgery to repair a minor labral tear in his non-throwing shoulder, an injury that would require a second procedure. The 30-year-old outfielder recovered nicely, putting together a .299/.357/.444 slash line with nine homers and 52 RBIs while earning his second career All-Star selection last year, but he played in only 90 games.

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Brantley also dealt with a broken hamate bone in his right hand in 2011 and a sports hernia in 2012 that required surgery.

"I think he's tired of it," Francona said of Brantley's time on the trainer's table. "But I think he's got a mature outlook on it because he's had to go through it so often and he's missed time. I think he wants to give himself the best chance to come back and stay back, and I do think he's done a good job. I've always felt that way about him. Things have just come up along the way that sometimes happens when you're playing a sport."

More from the back fields

Several Major Leaguers also got work in Minor League games Wednesday. Josh Tomlin worked three innings, righty reliever Dan Otero worked a pair of innings and bullpen ace Andrew Miller and closer Cody Allen each tossed an inning.

Indians flexible with Ogando
With the Indians' rotation appearing to be just about set with Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer, Mike Clevinger and Tomlin in place and Danny Salazar looming as a potential wild card, Alexi Ogando doesn't have a clear path onto the Indians' Opening Day roster -- at least as a starter.

The 34-year-old right-hander, who signed in December as a non-roster invitee, could serve as a potential swingman both in the Majors and Minors, and has expressed a desire to serve in a variety of roles.

"I think, in fairness to him trying to make the ballclub, [the bullpen] seems to be the best way to go," Francona said.

Video: Justice discusses the Indians signing Ogando

Ogando, who has allowed just one run through six Spring Training outings, hasn't pitched in the Majors since 2016, when he was 2-1 with a 3.94 ERA in 36 appearances with the Braves. While the former All-Star hasn't been a regular starter since 2013, he did start 19 games in Korea last season, posting a 10-5 record and 3.93 ERA.

"He has stated that he would like a chance to start if he doesn't make the ballclub," Francona said. "That's something we'll revisit. He sure looks healthy. The ball's coming out of his hand real nice. There's a lot of other considerations, too, with who's at Triple-A, stuff like that. That'll be a conversation for later on in camp."

Up next: The Indians will send Clevinger to the hill Thursday as they host the Reds at 4:05 p.m. ET. Many of the Tribe's regulars are expected to be in the lineup, and the game can be listened to on Gameday Audio.

Fabian Ardaya is a contributor to MLB.com.

Cleveland Indians, Michael Brantley, Alexi Ogando