CLEVELAND — Michael Brantley was placed on the 10-day disabled list prior to Wednesday’s series finale against Colorado with a right ankle sprain.
A similar issue sidelined the oft-injured left fielder for 11 games in June.
“He was imaged (Tuesday) night and it shows that it was, you know that’s that ankle he had sprained earlier in the year, so it’s the same area but a little different area I guess,” manager Terry Francona said. “It’s considered mild, but it’s such a small area that you kind of have to go on more of the symptoms than maybe the diagnosis.”
When the injury occurred in the fifth inning Tuesday, it appeared to be significant.
Brantley pulled up while running to back up center fielder Bradley Zimmer, then sat in the outfield awaiting the arrival of Francona and head trainer James Quinlan.
As Quinlan approached, television cameras appeared to catch Brantley telling him, “I heard it snap,” thinking he had suffered an Achilles injury, according to Francona.
“That’s what I think Brant was really worried about,” Francona said. “That’s why he didn’t move. It’s more on the side. But I don’t think when something like that happens, I don’t think you just ... he was really concerned about that.”
Though Francona was certainly concerned as he attended to Brantley, he didn’t fear the worst.
“Well, I was relieved when he pointed to where it was hurting because I’m not a doctor, but every once in a while I stay at a Holiday Inn Express, so I know a little bit, but it was on the side,” Francona said. “When somebody is sitting out there, you are never really relieved, but I knew it wasn’t an Achilles.”
It’s been a comeback season for Brantley, who underwent surgery twice on a problematic right shoulder and was limited to 11 games last year. He made the All-Star team for the second time in his career and is batting .299 with nine home runs and 52 RBIs in 88 games.
Utility infielder Erik Gonzalez was recalled from Triple-A Columbus to replace Brantley on the 25-man roster, but Francona said Brantley would accompany the team on a 10-game road trip that begins tonight.
Francona thinks ace Corey Kluber looks a lot like he did when he won the Cy Young award in 2014.
“Very similar,” Francona said of Kluber, who worked his second straight complete game Tuesday to improve to 10-3 with a 2.65 ERA in 19 starts. “I think now he’s got a couple more years under his belt though, so he understands more what he’s doing. He had gotten on such a run there as we got into September (in 2014), he was getting stronger. It was really amazing to see.
“When he gets on the roll, he can maintain it. It’s all the things we talk about, the work ethic, the routines. He’s so consistent and he maintains such a high level of consistency, man, it’s fun to watch.”
Kluber is on a mega-roll since leaving the disabled list June 1, joining Hall of Famers Randy Johnson and Pedro Marrtinez as the only pitchers to strike out at least eight batters in 13 consecutive outings.
He is among the league leaders in multiple categories, including ERA and strikeouts, despite missing a month with a lower-back injury.
Kluber and Boston’s Chris Sale are considered the Cy Young frontrunners at this point in the season.
Francona said he met with Zimmer prior to Wednesday’s game.
On Tuesday night, Zimmer failed to run hard on a popup that Colorado third baseman Nolan Arenado allowed to drop by the pitcher’s mound before completing an inning-ending double play.
“I think he did (run hard) at the end. And then it looked like there was a moment of maybe a little panic because (Arenado) didn’t handle it,” Francona said. “But it’s hard to tell. That’s what I was trying to tell Zim (Wednesday) morning, ‘We don’t know, but why find out?’ Zim’s a great kid. We all know that. Like I said (Tuesday) night, I don’t think it’ll happen again, and it doesn’t make him not a good kid. He messed up, he won’t do it again.
“And we try to remind guys all the time, there’s really no gray area because you either do it or you don’t. The one time you don’t … And he was just frustrated. It’s not laziness. You see the way he gets down the line. It’s just that’s why we continue to remind guys of that.”
Zimmer took responsibility after the game.
“I made a pretty big mistake not running to first,” he said. “It won’t happen again.”
The Indians are on the road for the next 11 days, opening a four-game series against Tampa Bay tonight at 7:10.
Danny Salazar (4-5, 4.32 ERA) opens the set for Cleveland, opposing LHP Blake Snell (0-6, 4.98).
Carlos Carrasco (10-5, 4.06) starts for the Indians on Friday (7:10 p.m.), with Mike Clevinger (5-4, 4.00) going Saturday (6:10 p.m.) and Kluber (10-3, 2.65) pitching the series finale Sunday (1:10 p.m.).
The Rays have yet to name starters for the final three games.
- The Indians entered Wednesday scoring an average of 4.4 runs per game against Central Division opponents, as opposed to a 5.2 average against all others.
- Kluber is the first MLB pitcher since 1933 to strike out at least 10 batters in five consecutive starts out of the All-Star break.