Russell Branyan’s return to Cleveland was supposed to be his first opportunity to play every day with the Indians.
To begin the season, that chance had to wait because The Russ Bus was in the shop for repairs.
Branyan, slated to begin the season as the Indians first baseman, was placed on the disabled list in the final week of spring training because of back soreness caused by a herniated disk.
The injury cut short Branyan’s season in 2009 when he had a career year with Seattle. When the Indians signed the 34-year-old on Feb. 19, they knew he was still on a rehabilitation program.
At the time of the signing, manager Manny Acta said Branyan would be the Tribe’s starting first baseman. As camp progressed, Branyan’s rehab didn’t go as quickly as anticipated and he didn’t appear in a Cactus League game.
So the Indians’ plan and Branyan’s chance to play every day went on hold. He began the season at Triple-A Columbus where he could get some at-bats, play in the field and get accustomed to playing nine innings every day.
“If you look at a 162-game schedule, it’s smarter for both parties to continue the rehab and come back with a very regimented schedule,” Branyan said. “This organization, from the time I was drafted to now, has done an excellent job with rehab programs and building volume and getting guys on the field.”
“We want to put him in a position to get off to a good start,” general manager Mark Shapiro said “We don’t want to rush his at-bats. We want to allow him some normal spring training.”
Time ran out on the team and Branyan. It wasn’t only about hitting, but playing in the field as well.
“It wasn’t just about the at-bats,” Acta said “He could go in a minor league game and have nine at-bats a day, but it’s the every day standing around on his feet for three hours.”
The Indians didn’t call Branyan’s situation a setback when they made the announcement that he wouldn’t be ready to begin the season.
“Nothing has occurred that was beyond our expectation,” said Shapiro. “Russ has made consistent progress. It’s not like we can’t field a team without him. He represents upside to our existing club. We feel good about the team we can put out there without him, and excited about the upside of our team with him.”
From a personal standpoint, Branyan is happy to be back with the Indians.
“There are a lot of good, positive things in coming back,