DETROIT -- Michael Brantley has had his ups and downs through the rookie's first handful of games as a starting outfielder at the Major League level. In Chicago, Brantley hit safely in all three games, going 3-for-10 with an RBI and two runs scored. He also struck out four times, but Brantley recognizes that there will be a learning curve.

Austin Kearns started in Brantley's place Friday afternoon in Detroit.

"I'm just trying to stay consistent, that's the big thing right now," Brantley said. "Defensively, I want to get good jumps on the ball from the outfield and have good at-bats. I'm hitting in the nine-hole, so that gives me a chance to see what pitchers are doing and it gives me a chance to watch them more closely before [he bats]."

Manager Manny Acta has been pleased with Brantley's at-bats, saying that his outfielder will continue to learn the nuances of playing at the Major League level.

"Michael has a good track record," Acta said. "He has a good on-base percentage and a low strikeout ratio, so that would suggest he will do well here. "But so far we have a very small sample in the Majors."

Brantley understands that his role is to put the bat on the ball and play solid defense. But he is also learning how to get information on opposing pitchers from scouting reports. It also helps that he has veteran left-handed batters in the Cleveland lineup above him in the order.

"Lefties have never really bothered me and I really got a lot of practice facing them in the Minors," Brantley said. "Plus, I get to see how they are pitching to guys like Travis [Hafner] and Grady [Sizemore], which helps."

Wood continues rehabbing

DETROIT -- Cleveland closer Kerry Wood threw 105 pitches off flat ground in a rehab session on Friday afternoon, and Manager Manny Acta is pleased with his progress. So far, the righty has had no setbacks in returning from a strained muscle underneath his pitching shoulder.

"He feels good right now," Acta said of Wood. "So far he's on track."

It is expected that Wood may begin throwing off a mound next week, perhaps as early as Wednesday, Wood said as he was heading off to his bullpen session on Friday. He likely will be throwing off flat ground a few times until then. Chris Perez remains Cleveland's closer until Wood returns.

Consecutive lefties no worry for Acta

DETROIT -- There won't be much tinkering with Cleveland's lineup in the Nos. 2-4 positions this year, as Grady Sizemore, Shin-Soo Choo and Travis Hafner are three of the Indians' most accomplished professional hitters. And even though all three are left-handed batters, manager Manny Acta isn't worried about opposing managers matching up with southpaws out of the bullpen.

"Those are three of my best hitters," Acta said. "I don't want to stick a righty in there unless someone is getting a day off because those guys can handle any lefty pitcher."

White Sox reliever Matt Thornton had good success against the Indians earlier this week, but that isn't uncommon for the Chicago pitcher. He has developed into one of the most dominating lefty relievers in the game, and Acta said he expects that Thornton would have success against most all Major League hitters, not just Sizemore, Choo and Hafner.

Thornton had a 2.67 ERA in 74 appearances in 2008 and a 2.74 ERA in 70 appearances a year ago.

"Having all those lefties batting on a row doesn't look too good when you throw Thornton out there, but he can get righties and lefties out," Acta said.

Jhonny Peralta seems locked into the No. 5 spot as well.

Worth noting:
Travis Hafner's home run Friday is his 163th career blast. That ties Hafner for 10th on the all-time Cleveland list with Ken Keltner, who played in the 1930s and 1940s. ...The average age of Cleveland's 40-man roster is 27.97 years. That is the second youngest among all Major League teams, trailing just Oakland at 27.71. ... Right-handed pitcher Joe Gardner was the talk of Cleveland's Minor League camp in Arizona. The 2009 third-round pick out of UC Santa Barbara had an impressive debut Friday night, striking out 11 batters in just four innings in Lake County's 7-1 win over West Michigan. Gardner allowed one earned run, three hits and two walks. ... Another one of the Tribe's top Minor League prospects, catcher Carlos Santana, has also gotten off to a hot start. He went 4-for-5 with a pair of home runs and four RBIs in Thursday's 17-4 win over Indianapolis. Santana played in the MLB All-Star Futures Game last year. ...Cleveland has now lost seven straight to Detroit heading into Saturday's game.