Branyan to open season on 15-day DL
Herniated disk provides LaPorta opportunity at first base
TEMPE, Ariz. -- The seemingly inevitable news came Sunday, when the Indians announced that Russell Branyan will open the 2010 regular season on the 15-day disabled list.What that means for the composition of the Opening Day roster won't be known until Thursday, when manager Manny Acta is expected to announce his decision on all the Tribe's remaining spring battles. Branyan is supposed to be the Tribe's first baseman this season, but he won't be starting the season opener on April 5 in Chicago because of a herniated disk in his lower back. That leaves Matt LaPorta at first base and left field -- the spot LaPorta is slated to occupy, once Branyan's aboard -- wide open for Austin Kearns, Michael Brantley or Trevor Crowe. The Indians knew of Branyan's condition when they signed off on his one-year deal with a $2 million guarantee, and they found the risk to be tolerable. Branyan's back, however, has not cooperated at a timetable that correlates with that of the team. He hasn't appeared in any exhibition games, and he took batting practice for the first time Saturday. "Just not enough time," Acta said. "It wasn't just about the at-bats. He could go in a Minor League game and have nine at-bats a day. But it's the everyday standing around on his feet for three hours." How long will it take for Branyan, who will begin appearing in Minor League games on Tuesday and could still see time in an "A" game this final week of camp, to get adequately prepared for that grind? "He's made consistently positive progress," general manager Mark Shapiro said. "He has a good chance to get into a game this week ... We're comfortable saying sometime in the first two weeks of the season he's going to be ready to play, if there are no setbacks."
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Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.