CLEVELAND -- Michael Brantley knows he is too valuable to the Indians to push through any lingering issues with his surgically-repaired right shoulder and risk a setback. That played into the left fielder's recent decision to alert the team that he was not bouncing back well after games.
That, in turn, also led to the Indians' decision Saturday to place Brantley on the 15-day disabled list due to inflammation in his shoulder, which was operated on in November. Cleveland purchased the contract of utility man Michael Martinez from Triple-A Columbus to fill Brantley's spot on the active roster.
"We need to look at the big picture and take care of him," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "I think he understood, and I think this makes sense."
Brantley's current DL stint is retroactive to Tuesday, meaning he will be eligible for activation on May 25. The outfielder underwent an MRI exam on Friday, but the results did not show anything alarming in his shoulder. Even so, Brantley is scheduled to head to Wilmington, Del., on Tuesday for a consultation with Dr. Craig Morgan, who performed his surgery on Nov. 9.
Rather than playing a man short for at least four more days, Cleveland felt it made more sense to promote Martinez to provide an extra hand for the bench. That is especially helpful at the moment, considering right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall is on baseball's bereavement list and not scheduled to rejoin the team until Sunday at the earliest.
"[Brantley is] not recovering at times as much as he wants, and he's got some soreness in there," Francona said. "Even if he's fine, say, Wednesday, we need to ramp him back up, because the more time he's down, the more time it takes. It just seemed like not a fun call, but an easy one."
The shoulder issue dates back to last season, when Brantley initially injured his arm on a diving catch attempt in a game against the Twins on Sept. 22. Cleveland's left fielder later had offseason surgery to repair a labral tear in his non-throwing shoulder. Brantley appeared in a pair of spring games, but fatigue issues forced him to the 15-day DL to start this season.
In his 11 games since being activated on April 25, Brantley has hit .231 (9-for-39) with two doubles, seven RBIs and six strikeouts. The outfielder opened his season with a 4-for-24 cold spell before breaking out with a 4-for-5 showing against the Tigers on May 5. Brantley went 1-for-10 in his three games after that performance, and he has not appeared in a game since Monday.
"I think we've tried to do it appropriately," said Francona, referring to Brantley's return. "I think the trainers feel like he's in much better shape now than he was in Spring Training, which I think is [good]. ... [When] he comes back, hopefully he can stay back and not have to mess with this."
Martinez, 33, appeared in 16 games for the Tribe last season, hitting .267 with two doubles and a .624 OPS, while offering depth at a variety of infield and outfield spots. In 27 games for Columbus this season, the switch-hitter turned in a .288/.351/.442 slash line with 11 extra-base hits, 12 RBIs and 12 runs scored. He can play second base, shortstop, third base and all three outfield spots.
"We can let these guys play," Francona said, "and hopefully also use [Martinez's] speed, defense, pinch-running, things like that, to hopefully help us win games late."
In order to clear room for Martinez on the 40-man roster, Cleveland transferred catcher Roberto Perez to the 60-day DL from the 15-day DL. Perez is sidelined for 2-3 months after surgery to repair ligament damage in his right thumb.