CLEVELAND (AP) — Michael Brantley sat in the outfield grass, a dazed and concerned look crossing his face.
His inspiring comeback has stopped for the moment.
The Indians All-Star left fielder is undergoing more tests after spraining his right ankle in the fifth inning of Tuesday night’s 4-1 win over the Colorado Rockies.
In the fifth, Brantley, having a strong season after missing most of 2016 due to right shoulder surgery, took a few steps to his left toward a fly ball to center before pulling up. He stopped and sat down while waiting to be checked by a trainer. Brantley’s facial expression seemed to indicate the injury could be serious.
Manager Terry Francona said Brantley initially thought he injured his Achilles tendon.
“That’s why he didn’t get up,” said Francona, who went onto the field to check Brantley. “By the time I got out there, he felt something, but it was on the side. It’s not that (Achilles). We just got to wait and see. There’s no sense in playing the doctor tonight. We just got to see what happens.”
As Brantley slowly walked to the dugout, Cleveland fans cheered his every step, knowing how hard he worked to come back.
He was sidelined by a right ankle sprain earlier this season, and the Indians wouldn’t mind if this is the same thing.
“That hurts, hurts really deep,” said catcher Yan Gomes, who hit a three-run, walk-off homer in the ninth as the Indians rallied for four runs off closer Greg Holland. “Nobody knew what was going on. He’s just sitting out there, and I even said to the umpire, it was like one of those non-contact injuries you see in football. Those are usually the worst.
“We’re praying for him. We’re hoping it’s not as bad of news as it looked. We know we need him.”
Brantley’s batting .299 with nine homers and 52 RBIs in 88 games. He was limited to just 11 games last season, when he watched his teammates reach the World Series without him.
Brantley amazed Cleveland’s medical staff by being ready for opening day, and the Indians are just hoping they won’t be without him for long.
“It’s scary,” Indians ace Corey Kluber said of seeing Brantley go down. “It’s challenging emotionally for everybody to lock it back in because he means so much to our team. I don’t know what’s going on with him, but hopefully it’s nothing serious and he’ll be OK.”