Indians outfielder Michael Brantley moves up in the MLB All-Star voting.


CLEVELAND -- Cleveland Indians outfielder Michael Brantley is ninth in the American League's outfielder voting for the 2014 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, which will be played on July 15 at Target Field in Minneapolis.

Brantley, who leads the Indians with 69 hits, 42 runs batted in, nine home runs and a .308 batting average, has earned 460,384 votes and trails Oakland's Yoenis Cespedes by nearly 42,000 votes for eighth place.

"I probably need to talk more about him because he's not going to talk about himself, and he's one of the better players in the game," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "It's not just hitter. It's base-runner, outfielder, teammate.

"He's gotten to that point where you're going to start seeing national recognition. Regardless of whether he's voted in by the fans, that won't change how we feel about him."

Brantley's production has been so impressive that even his former teammates, Boston outfielder Grady Sizemore in particular, have taken notice.

"I've been hurt the last couple years, and I've watched these guys," Sizemore said prior to the start of a three-game series with the Indians this week. "Mike is probably one of the most underrated players in the game.

"I think he's getting a lot of recognition now, but still probably not what he deserves. You watch what he's done in the last couple of years, and it's pretty impressive. He's only going to get better. I'm happy for him. I'm happy to see him out here having success, and I think he's only going to get better."

Francona is hoping Brantley gets the All-Star bid, but having managed the game twice before, he understands the intricacies of picking the roster.

"The hardest thing or the most frustrating thing for me was trying to explain to our guys the amount of input that I didn't have," Francona said. "There's so many rules in place now. The manager announces the team. The manager really doesn't do a whole lot.

"I think we felt compelled to be on top of everything, but there's so many rules in place that if a fan-voted guy is hurt, the next guy in the fan voting is automatically in, or if a player that's been voted by the players. There's a lot of things taken out of your hands, and then, you have to make sure everybody's represented. (Former Boston third baseman) Mike Lowell and I had a tough time because of that.

"The All-Star Game is set up for a reason. You're never going to have the best 25 or 28. It doesn't work that way. As long as you go into it knowing that, there's going to be guys voted in from big markets. That's just the way it is. You just hope that there's room when it comes time for guys to be named that deserve it."

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