- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 29, 2015

CLEVELAND (AP) - Indians outfielder Michael Brantley has toughed it out, playing through aches and pains all season long.

Now a right shoulder injury could sideline him for Cleveland’s final week.

Brantley was not in the lineup because of soreness Tuesday night before the Indians’ game against Minnesota was postponed by rain, forcing the teams to continue their wild-card chase with a traditional doubleheader Wednesday starting at 4:10 p.m.

Before the rainout, Brantley, who hurt his shoulder trying to make a diving catch last week, was examined by an orthopedist. Indians manager Terry Francona said the team will wait for results from the doctor before deciding the next step with Brantley, and it’s possible the former All-Star could spend the last seven games watching from the dugout.

“If we need to,” Francona said when asked if Brantley could be shut down. “I don’t think you do it unless you need to. I think our guys have done a really good job these last two months of playing through a lot of adversity and challenges. Again, there has to be common sense when it comes to injuries, but I also feel like the season doesn’t wind down, it comes to a crashing halt, and I’ll never change that thinking.”

Brantley sat out four games on the road before returning to the lineup Sunday. He went 0 for 4 in Monday’s 4-2 loss to the Twins.

Francona said Brantley, who has also been hampered by trouble with his left shoulder, and several other players, including Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber, All-Star second baseman Jason Kipnis and catcher Yan Gomes, have played hurt during Cleveland’s postseason push.

“I think he was probably fighting more things than people realize,” Francona said of Brantley. “He’s pretty beat up. He’s done a heck of a job.”

Brantley, who began the season slowed by a back issue that started in spring training, is batting .310 with 15 homers and 84 RBIs in 137 games. He finished third in the AL MVP voting last season.

Although they’ve been inconsistent much of the year, the Indians are still alive in the AL wild-card chase - but barely. They entered Tuesday’s action five games behind Houston for the second AL spot. The Astros played later in Seattle.

It hasn’t gone exactly as planned, but Francona has been impressed with how his young team has battled.

“You know the guys that went out there every day through a lot of bumps and bruises, and probably more than that, and played the game right,” he said. “I mean, there’s a reason why our record is better now than it was before. Our defense is drastically better. We’re fighting more, not each other. It’s generally been a lot of fun, and very rewarding for the most part coming to the ballpark because of how the guys have attacked the game. It’s been enjoyable.

“We’ve made our share of mistakes, and I knew we would, because we’re awfully young, and that’s OK. Because the guys, when they make them, they listen and try not to do it again.”

UP NEXT

Twins: RHP Kyle Gibson will start Wednesday’s opener. He lasted just 2 2-3 innings in a loss to the Indians last week. … RHP Mike Pelfrey struck out a season-high seven in his last outing. He’s 1-0 with a 4.02 ERA in three starts against Cleveland in 2015.

Indians: RHP Carlos Carrasco seems to flirt with a no-hitter every time out. On Sept. 25, he carried a no-no into the seventh against Kansas City and recorded his sixth career complete game. … RHP Cody Anderson had been scheduled to start Tuesday. In his most recent start, he allowed one run in 6 2-3 innings to beat the Twins.


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