After missing out, Brantley is ready to help Indians get back to the World Series
Via CBS Sports
MIAMI — Perhaps the most amazing thing about the Indians‘ run to the 2016 World Series is that they pushed the Cubs to extra innings in Game 7 despite missing so many key players. No. 2 and 3 starters Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar were injured, as was left fielder Michael Brantley.
Brantley, who will play in his second All-Star Game on Tuesday night, was limited to only 11 games in 2016 due to a pair of shoulder surgeries. He did not play after May 9 and was reduced to cheerleading duties in the dugout during the postseason.
“It was tough (to miss the postseason) and not so tough because I was with the team and they were successful and doing so well,” said Brantley on Monday. “At the same time I want to be out there and help them. I look forward to hopefully doing it again this year and I’ll be out there on the field.”
This year Brantley’s shoulder is healthy and he’s back to being a complete all-around hitter for the Indians. After hitting .319/.382/.494 from 2014-15, Brantley went into the All-Star break with a .304/.367/.440 batting line in 2017. He was very nearly voted into the All-Star Game starting lineup by the fans. The players voted him in instead, and I’m guessing that means more to him anyway.
Despite this year’s success and the All-Star Game selection, Brantley still doesn’t believe he is all the way back from his two shoulder surgeries. He feels strong and healthy, but such a long layoff comes with a lot of rust, and he’s still working to shake that off.
“Obviously in the beginning of the rehab process (my swing was off) because that was most stressful on my shoulder. Right now I feel great. I’m very happy. I’m excited where I am,” said Brantley. “I think I’m close, but I always think I can get better. I’m never going to stop working to get better. That’s not my mindset. My mindset it is to always keep pushing the envelope as much as I can, and being the best teammate I can be, and the best player I can be.”
The Indians are 47-40 with a 2 1/2 game lead in the AL Central this year, and things haven’t come quite as easily as they did last year, when they won 94 games and cruised to a division title. They are in position to return to the postseason, and this time around, they’re poised to have a healthy Brantley, and a healthy Brantley is a difference-maker.
“It’s very exciting. It’s very humbling,” said Brantley of being an All-Star in his first season back from shoulder surgery. “I’m not one guy here by myself. People put the time and effort to get me back here and I’m very appreciative of it.”
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