CLEVELAND -- When the Indians went on their magical run to the World Series last season, they did it without Michael Brantley. Because of injuries to his right shoulder and biceps, the All-Star left fielder was forced to watch from the dugout as his teammates competed for a championship.• Dress
CLEVELAND -- When the Indians went on their magical run to the World Series last season, they did it without Michael Brantley. Because of injuries to his right shoulder and biceps, the All-Star left fielder was forced to watch from the dugout as his teammates competed for a championship.
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While a right ankle sprain has prevented him from playing over the past seven weeks, Brantley has been doing everything in his power to return to action for the Indians. Now that he is back and looking healthy, he is trying to force the Tribe's hand to include him on its American League Division Series roster.
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"I'm doing well," Brantley said after Sunday's 3-1 win over the White Sox at Progressive Field. "I'm very excited with where I'm at. Everything has been trending positive."
The Indians will host the winner of Tuesday's AL Wild Card Game -- either the Twins or Yankees -- in Game 1 of the ALDS presented by Doosan beginning on Thursday. Although the Indians weren't sure that Brantley would be healthy enough to make the cut for the ALDS roster when they activated him from the disabled list on Saturday, he has done a lot in two games to give the team something more to consider.
While Brantley went 0-for-2 after pinch-hitting for Edwin Encarnacion in Sunday's game, it was his at-bat in Saturday night's 2-1 loss that stands out. When he came on to pinch-hit for Giovanny Urshela in the fifth inning, the sellout crowd at Progressive Field gave Brantley a standing ovation.
Brantley put together one of his vintage at-bats, battling White Sox starter Carson Fulmer for 10 pitches. Brantley pulled the final pitch into right for a single that would ultimately lead to the Tribe's run.
"It was great," Brantley said of the at-bat. "I've played my entire career here. I love these fans. I appreciate their support. It gave me goose bumps. It was a long at-bat. I noticed about halfway through they weren't sitting down yet. I thought that was pretty cool. I was just glad to have that moment. It was nice."
With three days off before Game 1, Brantley will continue to make his case for a roster spot while the team holds workouts on Tuesday and Wednesday.
"I have a lot of confidence in my ability," Brantley said. "We have a great group of guys in this locker room that keep me positive and push for me. I worked really hard to get back. I was working on my swing the whole time. There's always going to be a bit of an adjustment period, but I feel like I can handle it."
Brantley's teammates have been pulling for him throughout his rehab, and fellow All-Star Francisco Lindor is confident that Brantley will be on the ALDS roster once it is finalized.
"Brantley's a special player and a special teammate," Lindor said. "I love Brantley. He has helped me a lot, and I couldn't be more proud of him that he has battled his way into the lineup day after day. He's going to be successful. He's going to help us in the postseason."
William Kosileski is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland.