On November 9th last year, Michael Brantley underwent right shoulder surgery. Cleveland expected him to be ready in "5-6 months" and it appears that he's right on schedule.
SMOOTH UPDATE: Michael Brantley begins rehab assignment tomorrow for Columbus. pic.twitter.com/XehSVc127h— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) April 11, 2016
The Indians haven't announced just how long Brantley figures to be at AAA, but it's safe to assume that it will be longer than a usual rehab assignment. He only had five plate appearances in spring training, and will likely need more than a few games to start feeling comfortable at the plate.
While it's still early in the season, the Indians desperately need Brantley back. Their current outfield alignment, from left to right, is Rajai Davis, Tyler Naquin, and Marlon Byrd. Steamer projects all three to wind up with a below average wRC+, whereas Brantley is expected to return his to expected levels of production.
In 596 plate appearances in 2015, Brantley hit .310/.379/.480, with a wOBA of. 368 and a wRC+ of 135. Cleveland might very well have to add another outfielder based on how Davis, Naquin, and Byrd perform over the next few months, but for now, the focus is on getting Brantley back in the lineup. As long as his shoulder is fully healthy, the Indians will be getting their all-star outfielder back soon.