CLEVELAND (AP) — Indians All-Star Michael Brantley has made yet another comeback — at the perfect time.
The left fielder is on Cleveland's AL Division Series roster against the New York Yankees after it appeared his season might be over because of an ankle ligament injury. Brantley missed 50 games after Aug. 8, when he got hurt while tracking a fly ball. But he worked his way back and is expected to be used in a pinch-hitting role in the series beginning Thursday night.
However, Brantley has been testing his ankle and it's possible his role could expand and he could play in the field. He batted .299 with nine homers and 52 RBIs in 90 games, including .357 with a homer against New York this season.
When he got hurt in August, Brantley — and the Indians — feared he might be through for 2017. Instead, he was diligent with his rehab and made it back.
"Any time you get hurt, you always are concerned if you are going to get back, especially under a time crunch," he said. "I'm just excited that so many doctors and trainers helped me get back to this situation and be a part of this."
As for getting on the field, Brantley said Wednesday that was still possible.
"We'll see how it goes," he said. "It's one day at a time. I tested pretty hard and everything has responded well and I'm very excited about that. We'll see how it goes from there."
Brantley missed the entire postseason in 2016 after undergoing shoulder surgeries. He played in 11 games during the regular season but then had to watch in October as Cleveland made it to the World Series without him.
In this ALDS, Indians manager Terry Francona is carrying 11 pitchers, seven infielders, five outfielders and two catchers on the 25-man roster. The most notable omissions were relievers Nick Goody, Dan Otero and Zach McAllister, who appeared in a combined 158 games.
There were no major surprises with New York's roster. Yankees manager Joe Girardi elected to go with 12 pitchers. He was forced to go to his bullpen early in the wild-card game when Luis Severino was chased in the first inning.
Severino is scheduled to pitch Game 4 if the best-of-five series goes that far.
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