GOODYEAR, Arizona (AP) Indians outfielder Michael Brantley hit off a tee last weekend, a significant step in his recovery from shoulder surgery.
Cleveland's best all-around player had a torn labrum repaired in November and is expected to miss the start of the regular season. However, Brantley has made steady progress and raised hopes that he might not be sidelined as long as initially feared.
The 28-year-old called hitting baseballs off a tee ''baby steps'' but he's encouraged by his recovery. Brantley will take part in conditioning work and fielding drills with his teammates and is still targeting April 4 - opening day against the Boston Red Sox - for his return.
Brantley understands that might not be ready for the opener, and if he isn't, ''I'm going to be the biggest cheerleader I can be.''
The Indians will hold their first spring training full-squad workout on Tuesday.