DETROIT -- Manager Manny Acta expects Michael Brantley to return to the Indians' starting lineup when the club returns home to open up a three-game set against the Athletics on Tuesday.
Brantley underwent an MRI on Friday in Cleveland, and the results yielded no serious damage to his left ankle, which he injured in Thursday's win over the Royals.
The swelling in Brantley's ankle was down on Friday, and he walked without an orthopedic boot on Saturday. He's expected to participate in baseball activities on Sunday in Cleveland. The injury wasn't severe enough to land Brantley on the disabled list, and the club opted to play a man short for the series against the Tigers.
The Indians' off-day on Monday will also give Brantley's ankle an extra day to recover.
"He continues to make improvements," Acta said. "[Sunday] he's going to progress to play catch and hit off a tee. We are happy with the progress he's making. We are pretty sure he probably will be playing next homestand."
Brantley's return will be welcomed by the club, as he was batting .327 (16-for-49) in 12 games since being recalled from Triple-A Columbus on Aug. 6.
Scary defensive plays put Indians at risk
DETROIT -- With Michael Brantley back in Cleveland having his ankle examined, the Indians' bench was already short on Friday night. Two defensive plays in the game almost made the bench even shorter.
In the first inning, Tigers second baseman Will Rhymes laid down a bunt that was picked up by Indians catcher Lou Marson. Because Matt LaPorta was off the bag at first defending the bunt, second baseman Luis Valbuena covered the base. But an errant throw by Marson pulled Valbuena off the base and left his arm exposed to a collision with Rhymes as he tried to make a catch in the baseline.
Valbuena fell to the ground clutching his wrist. He was examined by the training staff and remained in the game. No major injury was found during a double-check examination postgame. Jason Donald took his place at second base on Friday night.
Then, in the eighth inning, center fielder Trevor Crowe laid out for a deep flyball off the bat of Brandon Inge that almost resulted in a big collision with the wall in left-center field. But Crowe dove early enough and lost some speed in his slide, resulting in a minor collision. He was unable to make the catch, but popped back to his feet right after the play.
Both plays left manager Manny Acta holding his breath in the dugout. Luckily, neither player was injured.
"I thought the Valbuena one is easier to absorb because we had two extra infielders on the bench," Acta said. "The outfield one was more risky and scary for us."
Acta said he's become accustomed to watching Crowe play aggressively in the outfield. But it still makes him uneasy when he sees his center fielder making such dangerous plays.
"He goes all out all the time," Acta said. "That's one of the things we like about him. He plays reckless with his body. He's not afraid to sacrifice his body. It's very tough to tell kids, 'Hey stop playing that way.' It's tough for them to pick and choose which plays they choose to do that. It comes with a lot of years of experience."
Tribe gets ready for fantasy football season
DETROIT -- Cheers and moans erupted out of the film room in the visitor's clubhouse on Saturday. Yes, it's that time of the year again, time for fantasy football to begin.
The Indians held their random draw for the order of picks in their fantasy football draft before Saturday's game against the Tigers. As expected, some of the participants exited the room in good spirits, others not so much.
The big winner in the draw was Shin-Soo Choo, who selected the envelope that earned him the right to choose first in the draft. Teammates hounded Choo to try and feel out who he was going to take with the first overall pick. His response: "With the first round pick in the 2010 draft, I take Matt LaPorta of the Cleveland Indians."
Sure, he was just kidding. But Choo admitted he doesn't follow football the way some of his teammates do.
"I never watch football," Choo said. "I don't know how to play."
Manager Manny Acta also said he doesn't know all the in's and out's of football, thus deciding not to participate in the league. He said he'd much rather stick to baseball, the sport he knows best.
"I don't know football," Acta said. "I've been taught a few things and I watch it. But I can't go into a strategy, like in baseball.
"I don't play any of that stuff. All I know how to play is Pacman."
Right-handed pitcher Jason Knapp made his Class A debut for Lake County on Friday night. He didn't allow a run or a hit over four innings with two walks and seven strikeouts. Knapp was acquired last year in the trade that sent Cliff Lee and Ben Francisco to Philadelphia. He had right shoulder surgery in the offseason. ... Entering Saturday's game against the Tigers, the Indians hold an 11-9 record on Saturdays, the only day of the week during which Cleveland owns a winning record. ... Home field has been a major advantage in the series between the Indians and Tigers this season. Prior to Saturday, the Indians held a 5-1 record against the Tigers at Progressive Field, while only 1-6 at Comerica Park.
Alex DiFilippo is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.