CLEVELAND -- Indians manager Terry Francona has reached the stage where he is bargaining with Michael Brantley about playing time. Cleveland still wants to closely monitor the left fielder's innings, but Brantley wants to be in the lineup as much as possible.For Friday's game against the Blue Jays, Brantley was
CLEVELAND -- Indians manager Terry Francona has reached the stage where he is bargaining with Michael Brantley about playing time. Cleveland still wants to closely monitor the left fielder's innings, but Brantley wants to be in the lineup as much as possible.
For Friday's game against the Blue Jays, Brantley was given the day off from being in the starting lineup. That was Brantley's choice, as the Indians wanted to build in an off-day for the veteran outfielder on either Thursday or Friday, while he continues to return from right ankle surgery in October.
"It was one or the other," Francona said. "He felt like he felt good, and he wanted to play [Thursday against the Tigers]. So, in my opinion, if you string more together and as long as he's OK, then we keep building him up."
Brantley, 30, played in three consecutive games after he was activated from the 10-day disabled list on April 6, took a day off and then played three more games in a row. In those six games, Brantley has hit .286 (6-for-21) with two strikeouts, one walk and four RBIs.
Francona said Brantley has been giving positive feedback along the way.
"He's doing really well," Francona said. "He wasn't going to play today, but I thought that he was fighting for it. It was obviously a really good sign."
• Francona expressed praise on Friday over the way Bradley Zimmer went to the opposite field on a pair of singles off lefty Chad Bell in Thursday's win over Detroit. The manager was also pleased with Zimmer's bunt single during Wednesday's victory. Given Zimmer's speed, Francona feels bunting can be a beneficial part of the center fielder's game.
"It wasn't a great bunt, but it doesn't have to be with his speed," Francona said. "We're really trying to encourage him, of all people, to try to get more comfortable bunting, because it's not something that was in his game that much. So, he's working on it, because as he gets better at it, it could be a big help for him."
• Going into the season, Francona indicated that Yan Gomes and Roberto Perez would likely see a relatively even distribution of innings behind the plate. Through the first 13 games, Gomes caught 74 1/3 innings, compared to 43 innings for Perez. Gomes got the start again on Friday against Toronto.
• Infielder Gio Urshela (10-day DL, right hamstring) is scheduled to make his first Minor League rehab appearance with Triple-A Columbus on Friday against Durham. Urshela had been doing rehab work in Arizona, and appeared in an extended spring game on Wednesday.
Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.