Bad back to hold Branyan back
By Anthony Castrovince/MLB.com
You might not be shocked to learn that Russell Branyan's bum back will force him to open the season on the 15-day disabled list.
Branyan was informed of the Indians' decision this morning.
The Indians signed Branyan to a one-year, $2 million contract near the beginning of spring camp to be their starting first baseman this season. However, the herniated disc in Branyan's lower back, which kept him off the field for the final month of his '09 season with the Mariners, has not cooperated and responded to rehab as much as either side hoped. Branyan has yet to appear in an exhibition game, and he took batting practice for the first time Saturday.
If Branyan doesn't appear in a Cactus League game this week (and he might), the Indians can back-date his placement on the DL to March 27. GM Mark Shapiro said the expectation is that Branyan will be ready to join the team "sometime in the first two weeks of the season," provided he continues to progress in rehab.
Matt LaPorta will remain at first base. Michael Brantley (whose arbitration clock is an issue), Austin Kearns (whose out clause is an issue) and Trevor Crowe are in competition for the starting left field job.
More info to come soon at Indians.com.