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Healthy Brantley worth the wait for Indians

Special to MLB.com

BALTIMORE -- The Indians bet on Michael Brantley in the offseason, exercising a $12 million team option for the left fielder despite persistent injury problems. As the end of April nears, Brantley is making Cleveland look smart.

Hitting cleanup in the Tribe's 7-3 win over the Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on Sunday, Brantley went 2-for-5 with an RBI single, continuing a string of hot hitting for the two-time All-Star who is coming off right ankle surgery last October.

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BALTIMORE -- The Indians bet on Michael Brantley in the offseason, exercising a $12 million team option for the left fielder despite persistent injury problems. As the end of April nears, Brantley is making Cleveland look smart.

Hitting cleanup in the Tribe's 7-3 win over the Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on Sunday, Brantley went 2-for-5 with an RBI single, continuing a string of hot hitting for the two-time All-Star who is coming off right ankle surgery last October.

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"He's such a pro. He gives himself a chance," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "It's not by luck. He gets here early and gets his work in. ... It's nice to have him around."

The Indians placed Brantley on the 10-day disabled list toward the end of Spring Training to give his ankle more time to recover. He wasn't activated until April 6, missing the first week of the season.

So far, it seems like Brantley was worth the wait.

After the Indians' 2-1 win over the Orioles in Monday's series finale, Brantley owned a .320/.346/.460 slash line. Francona said he might sometimes notice something off in Brantley's gait, but otherwise, the ankle injury hasn't hampered the 30-year-old.

"I don't think it gets in the way of his game at all. He's swinging the bat really well. He's so reliable in left field. He knows where to go," Francona said. "I think it is pretty bright for us with him."

Joshua Needelman is a contributor to MLB.com based in Baltimore.

Cleveland Indians, Michael Brantley