By T.J. ZUPPE, 92.3 The Fan Indians Beat ReporterBy T.J. Zuppe | 92.3 The Fan

CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – After missing two games due to a lower back issue, Cleveland Indians outfielder Michael Brantley will return to the lineup for the Tribe’s home opener at Progressive Field on Friday.

Brantley, who battled back soreness and stiffness through Spring Training, will bat third and play left field.

“We’re in a good spot,” Brantley said. “I’m very excited to get back out there with my teammates.”

The Indians’ All-Star outfielder would not confirm if he had an MRI on his back. However, after taking a few days off, he says it is feeling much better.

“It was something we had to work through,” he said. “We have a great medical staff that’s going to get me through it. We’re going to be just fine.

“I’ll do whatever I have to do to stay on that field everyday.”

Indians manager Terry Francona feels the team has a good handle on the situation.

“I think it’s just pretty much like… when you get your lower back that hurts and you tweak it, some days it grabs at you,” Francona said. “He was evaluated today and everything is good, which is really good. But we’ll keep an eye on him. If he needs a day off, we can certainly do that. We don’t ever want to turn something that could be a day or two into two weeks. It’s nice having him back in the lineup, that’s for sure.”

While Brantley has been somewhat frustrated by the back issues dating back to early spring, he is happy to be returning to the lineup on Friday against the Detroit Tigers.

“You never want anything to linger,” Brantley said. “I’m not happy about it, but at the same time, I’m taking the steps in the right direction to be where I have to be to be back in the lineup.”

Brantley finished third in AL MVP voting last season.


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