Fitting In Nicely





CLEVELAND—The baseball business is nothing new to Indians outfielder Michael Brantley.

The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Brantley, son of former major leaguer Mickey Brantley, grew up around the game and understands its quirky nuances.

But it wasn't until he was traded in 2008 that the younger Brantley realized that neither his baseball background nor his father could help ease the transition he faced.

When the Indians traded C.C. Sabathia in the middle of the 2008 season, they acquired four minor leaguers from the Brewers, headlined by outfielder/first baseman Matt LaPorta and also including lefthander Zach Jackson, righthander Rob Bryson and later, as the player to be named, Brantley.

As the final piece of the deal, Brantley wasn't acquired until the offseason. The next few months were spent feeling anxious about getting to know a new group of players and coaches in a new organization.

"We like him because he gives us a combination of plate discipline, speed and athleticism," Indians general manager Mark Shapiro said after the trade. "We think he can help our run production with his discipline at the plate and speed on the bases."

Brantley knew it all, yet he still felt he had a lot to prove being the new guy.

"When I came to (Triple-A) Columbus last year, I tried to do too much too early," Brantley said. "In the end, it taught me to just use the tools I was blessed with and not worry about anything else."

When injuries prematurely ended Grady Sizemore's season last year, the lefthanded-hitting Brantley took over in center and batted .313/.358/.348 in 112 at-bats.

"I want to earn the position," Brantley said. "I want the new coaching staff to say with confidence: 'This is our left fielder,' and not because they didn't have anyone else to choose from."

SMOKE SIGNALS

• The Indians invited righthander Josh Judy to major league camp. Judy began 2009 in high Class A Kinston but moved up to Double-A Akron, where as the team's closer he had a 3.10 ERA in 36 games.

• The Indians also invited righthander Zach Putnam to big league camp. Putnam also began last year in Kinston but quickly advanced to Akron, where he was converted to reliever and went 4-2, 4.13 with two saves.