Mariners notebook: Branyan could be back by weekend
First baseman Russell Branyan’s “day-to-day” back injury has become more of a one-week issue. That’s what the Mariners are hoping.
Five days after he injured his lower back running the bases in Friday’s game, Branyan took 35 swings in the batting cage and fielded balls at first base during batting practice Wednesday. He remained out of the lineup for that game and maybe even today’s series finale.
“I don’t want to put a percentage on it, but if I played tonight I would take a chance on tweaking it again,” Branyan said Wednesday afternoon. “I like the progress I have made so far. I have a little history with it, maybe like once a year. It normally happens early, and every time it happens it takes four or five days to come back. This is Day 5.”
Manager Don Wakamatsu said Branyan may play today, but he also didn’t rule out waiting until this weekend when the Mariners play at Anaheim.
Besides getting the spasms to calm down, Branyan said he will be put on a program to improve his core strength.
“I’ve never gotten on a serious core strengthening program,” he said. “We’re going to do our best to keep it from flaring up again.”
Branyan hasn’t been scorching hot with the bat to start the season – he’s batting .273 with two home runs and three RBIs – but he said he was starting to feel good at the plate.
“I wasn’t doing my best, but early in the season everyone is making their adjustments,” he said. “I am seeing the ball great. I wasn’t swinging my best, but I was starting to come around.”
That makes it frustrating, although Branyan has an everyday job for the first time in his career and he knows the key it to make progress as the season goes on. That’s important not only for him, but the team as well.
“An old manager of mine told me that hitters hit in April and May, that pitchers pitch in June and July, and the real men come out to play in August and September,” he said. “The season is long. We have a good mixture of guys here. We have pitching and depth to keep us in it all year.”
Rowland-Smith has MRI
Pitcher Ryan Rowland-Smith, on the disabled list since April 15 because of triceps tendinitis, underwent a magnetic resonance imaging exam that showed he has fluid in his elbow but no structural damage.
“That is good news,” Wakamatsu said. “That probably means he needs a week or so more of rehab time, but it was real good news that there is no structural damage.”
Rowland-Smith will need more time to recover form the injury and rebuild his arm strength and won’t be ready to come off the DL on Sunday when he’s eligible.
After playing the first seven home games under open sky – a franchise record to start the season – the Safeco Field roof rolled overhead just before the first pitch because of cold conditions. The temperature at first pitch was 48 degrees. … After recording his fourth save Tuesday night, Brandon Morrow had thrown 23 strikes in his past 26 pitches.