Michael Brantley, Chris Antonetti address media after announcing extension
Indians General Manager Chris Antonetti and outfielder Michael Brantley met with media in Goodyear on Thursday afternoon, shortly after the Indians made Brantley’s four-year contract extension official.
Here’s a look at what the duo had to say:
Opening Statement from Chris Antonetti:
On the field, Michael is a complete player. He impacts the game offensively and defensively and he plays the game the right way. Beyond what he does on the field, Michael earned this extension for the way he approaches the game. He is a tireless worker, a great teammate and a complete professional in every sense of the word. When you are making an investment of this magnitude, those are the things you look for. He really embodies everything we look for in our players. There is no one more deserving of this than Michael.
Opening Statement from Michael Brantley:
First off, I want to thank the Cleveland organization for giving me this opportunity; I very much appreciate it. I want to thank the Dolan family as well, and everyone who helped me get to this point: the front office, my teammates, the clubbies, and the coaching staff; they are all a big part of this. I have to thank my family, my mother and father for raising me the right way and getting me to the field. I want to thank my wife for being such a good supporter and my children. This is a great day, it’s a blessing and I’m very happy to be part of the Cleveland organization.
On the motivation behind wanting to sign a long-term deal:
MB: First of all, Cleveland gave me the first opportunity to play at the Major League level. That does not go unnoticed, and I really appreciate that. We made some great strides last year and I feel like we can player even better as a group. We have such a great group of guys in the locker room and I’m excited to be part of it for years to come.
We have a great group of core guys – we are young and coming up. We feed off each other, we have great energy, great team chemistry; when you have that, it’s fun and exciting to come to work every day. I think we did great last year, but we can do even better this year. Everybody in that right room right now is all smiles; it’s just really part to be a part of (this team).
How tough was it to give up three arbitration years and one year of free agency?
MB: It’s not tough at all. The front office takes good care of you and that’s where you want to be. My family is comfortable here, I’m happy here and to put on Cleveland Indians uniform each and every day is a blessing. I’m excited to do that for years to come.
On his versatility:
MB: I always believe team comes first. I am a team player first and foremost. I want to pick up my teammates as much as they pick me up. We have a great group of guys in that locker room that makes sure we stay positive each and every day. When you go through rough patches, your teammates are there. When you have that great group of guys with you every day, it’s easy to play baseball here.
I’m willing to do whatever it takes. I want to win baseball games. I don’t care what it takes — I want to win. The strides we took last year, we are moving forward in a fast direction – it’s fun and exciting and a really great time to be a Cleveland Indians fan.
On how he approaches each at-bat:
MB: I am a firm believer in the game dictates what is going to happen (in each at-bat). If you are a leadoff hitter, you only lead off once a game – you just start the game off. I feel like the game dictates what you have to do in each situation. If nobody is on, you have to get on base for the guy behind you. If a guy is on third with fewer than two outs, you have to get him in. Little things like that will dictate the approach that I’ll have at the plate during that time. Moving up and down in the lineup, if it helps the team, I’m willing to do it.
How much does Michael’s versatility help the team?
CA: Michael’s contributions had a huge impact. Not only did he provide versatility in the outfield, but versatility in the lineup and how Tito constructed the lineup. It’s not easy to do what he did – to bounce selflessly between any spot in the lineup. He was willing to do whatever he could to help the team. That’s a huge advantage for us as an organization and Tito as a manager in putting the best team forward every night.
As I said earlier, it’s a competitive advantage. As Michael said, what enables him to do that is his entire focus is on the team and how we can win games. A lot of guys talk about that, but Michael lives that every day. He does it with how he approaches the game, his work ethic, the teammate he is in the locker room and with how he supports other players. He lives that. I think that approach allows him to view it that way.
On his father’s impact on his career:
MB: We always talked about going to the plate each time with an approach. That started when I was really young. I just made sure that I kept that same mindset and focus each and every at-bat. I try to never give an at-bat away and just making sure that I can do the best for my team. I feel like if you have an approach and a plan at the plate it is easier to execute each and every time.
On the core of the team:
MB: That’s what made us thrive so much last year – we had great leadership. The guys that we brought in plus the young core that we had all came together as one. When you all play as one team, and are all pulling on the same rope as they say, good things are going to happen. I look at it as each and every day we come to work, we have fun doing it, and with the strides that we made last year we are going to continue to get better. I am here, I am a part of it and it’s going to be fun.
CA: The continuity is important. Like Michael said, we feel really good about the core group of guys that we have and we want to try to keep them together for as long as we can. To do that it takes not only an extraordinary commitment from ownership, but also willingness from the players to want to be here. We are lucky that guys like Michael have placed an importance on wanting to be here and staying a Cleveland Indian.
On being traded to Cleveland:
CA: When you make a trade you have some sense from your scouting reports on what a player’s on-field abilities might be and you try to get the best you can to understand of their makeup and what makes them tick. With Michael, we had some sense of those things, but I don’t think we could fully appreciate how great of a worker and teammate he really is. It’s difficult to access those things, but I think having the chance to be with Michael for a couple of years it’s fun to be able to reflect back on bringing him over and he’s been able to excel in the way that he has.
MB: It was a tough transition. I was the player to be named later so I didn’t come over until after the season was over. There were a lot of rumors and speculation that I was going to be a Cleveland Indian. Once I got over here the front office and coaching staff really welcomed me with open arms and made it an easy transition. When I came over here I only knew the guys that I got traded with. The teammates and the good guys that we have all took care of me. It wasn’t a situation where it was tough to gel or make friends. It was an easy transition and that has a lot to do with the front office and who they had in here before me. They made it comfortable for me to be here at that time.
On Dr. Smooth:
MB: I embraced it! The fans embrace it, I embrace it – it’s fun. It’s a cool nickname.
On potentially winning a Gold Glove in the future:
My job is to do the best I can for my teammates. There is no other way around that. If I play well in the field then I am happy. The gold glove, all the extra stuff is just bonus. It’s about winning baseball games.
–Michael Stimpert, Indians Communications/Photo by Dan Mendlik