Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Michael Brantley injury: Astros veteran getting second opinion on shoulder, unclear if he will return in 2022

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Houston Astros outfielder Michael Brantley will soon get a second opinion on his injured right shoulder, bench coach Joe Espada told reporters Wednesday, including the Houston Chronicle. Brantley has not played since June 26 and the Astros have not revealed the exact nature of the injury. Espada declined to say whether surgery is possible.

“I miss Michael. The team misses Michael,” Espada told the Houston Chronicle. “Any time you don’t see Michael here, it’s something you don’t want, but we also respect his right to go and seek a second opinion. There’s no doubt about it and we all miss Michael Brantley.”

Brantley seeking a second opinion is not out of the ordinary — the collective bargaining agreement allows players to get a second opinion from a doctor of their choosing and it happens frequently — though it is notable because he’s obviously dealing with something relatively severe. The Astros keep injury information close to the vest, but Brantley hasn’t played in close to two months now.

“We remain optimistic and hopeful Michael Brantley will play this season,” Astros GM James Click told MLB.com on Aug. 2.

The Astros have enough concern about Brantley’s shoulder that they acquired Trey Mancini at the trade deadline. Yordan Alvarez has played 36 games in left field this season, nearly as many as the other three seasons of his career combined (51), and he’s played well defensively according to the various metrics. Alvarez being able to play left opens up DH for Mancini, or Brantley should he return.

Brantley, 35, was hitting .288/.370/.416 with five home runs in 64 games prior to his injury and that could be considered a down year given his track record. He is in the second year of a two-year, $32 million contract, and he will be a free agent after the season. Houston has not been an offensive powerhouse this season, ranking 14th in runs per game.

At 71-41, the Astros have the American League’s best record and they’re 10 1/2 games up in the AL West. That comfortable division lead allows them to remain patient with Brantley during any rehab work.

Espada is currently serving as Houston’s acting manager while Dusty Baker is away from the team following a positive COVID-19 test.

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