It has been over a year since Michael Brantley underwent shoulder surgery and even longer (June 26, 2022) since the veteran slugger appeared in a big league game. However, Brantley’s long recovery process may finally be nearing an end, as Astros GM Dana Brown told 790 AM’s Robert Ford in a radio interview today (hat tip to Danielle Lerner of the Houston Chronicle) that Brantley might begin a minor league rehab assignment within a week’s time. “This was the time where we really started to grind [Brantley] a little bit where he got sore and the fact that he’s pushing through this, there’s no soreness,” Brown said. “He’s feeling really good, this feels like a special moment to try get that left-handed bat back….So hopefully he continues to feel well.”
The Astros were confident enough in Brantley’s recovery to sign him to a one-year, $12MM free agent deal last winter, though an initial expectation of an Opening Day return was delayed a season-opening stint on the injured list. Brantley was then expected back early in May except another setback shut down his rehab entirely, and he had to briefly shut things down again July after restarting his hitting work in June. Brown’s comments today provide some fresh optimism, but considering Brantley has yet to face live pitching, it may still be a while before he is fully ramped up and ready for MLB competition. Speculatively, Brantley might be on track for a September return if all goes well, which could provide the Astros with a nice boost for the stretch run and perhaps into the playoffs.
More from the AL West…
- The Rangers activated catcher Jonah Heim from the 10-day injured list today, and optioned Sam Huff to Triple-A in the corresponding move. After a left wrist tendon strain sent Heim to the IL on July 27, he returns within the 2-3 week recovery timeline that was initially projected at the time of his placement. Heim’s outstanding performance in the first half earned an All-Star nod, though his absence hasn’t slowed the Rangers down at all, in part because Mitch Garver has also been hitting up a storm in a part-time catching role. Even if Heim’s wrist problem limits him to being a left-handed batter rather than a switch-hitter, Garver’s presence should guard Texas against any sort of offensive dropoff behind the plate.
- Shohei Ohtani will skip his next scheduled start due to arm fatigue, Angels manager Phil Nevin told the Associated Press and other media. Ohtani was initially slated to face the Rangers on Wednesday, but due to what Nevin described as “some normal arm fatigue that happens at times,” the Halos will now hold Ohtani’s next start back until a series with the Reds that begins on August 21. The arm issue won’t prevent Ohtani from his usual regular DH duty, and the two-way superstar underlined that point by hitting a home run (his 41st of the season) in the Angels’ 2-1 victory over the Astros today.