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Brantley scratched due to lower back stiffness

Indians consider All-Star outfielder day to day with injury

HOUSTON -- The back issue that bothered Indians All-Star Michael Brantley during the spring flared up again prior to Wednesday's game against the Astros.

Brantley was scratched from Cleveland's lineup due to lower back stiffness, which is a problem he dealt with both at the beginning and end of Spring Training. The left fielder was held out of some early spring activities due to the issue and then missed five games from March 23-28 with a similar ailment.

The Indians announced that Brantley is considered day to day for now.

"His back tightened up on him again," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "He wanted to play so bad. We just don't want to do something that prolongs it. We're hopeful he can play tomorrow, but if he doesn't, I'd rather it be a day or two than a week or two. He's battled this on and off all spring, so we just want to get a handle on it."

In 15 Cactus League games this spring, the 27-year-old Brantley hit at a .364 (16-for-44) clip for the Indians. He went 0-for-4 in Cleveland's Opening Day loss to Houston on Monday night at Minute Maid Park. Last season, the outfielder finished third in American League Most Valuable Player voting after batting .327 with 20 homers, 23 stolen bases, 45 doubles, 94 runs and 97 RBIs in 156 games.

With Brantley -- Cleveland's No. 3 hitter -- out of the mix on Wednesday, second baseman Jason Kipnis moved from second to third in the lineup. Shortstop Jose Ramirez slid into the No. 2 spot and utility man Mike Aviles assumed Brantley's place in left field, serving as the No. 9 batter for the Tribe.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian.
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