Branyan has big night in rehab game
Slugger expected to return from DL within two weeks
DETROIT -- First baseman Russell Branyan had an encouraging performance Thursday night in a rehab game for Triple-A Columbus. Branyan went 3-for-3 with a double and an RBI in a rehab game at Triple-A Columbus, as the Clippers pounded visiting Indianapolis in the International League season opener, 17-4.
Branyan was placed on the 15-day disabled list at the start of the season with a herniated disc in his back, but it is expected that he will join the Indians at some point in April. When that occurs, Cleveland is expected to slide Matt LaPorta back to left field from first base.
The Indians' training staff will see how quickly Branyan bounces back and rounds into game shape, manager Manny Acta said. Branyan may not play every day during his time with Columbus, and there may be some instances when he will DH rather than play the field.
"We haven't set a date as to when we may bring him back yet," Acta said, although the Cleveland manager suggested he would expect Branyan to be back with the Indians within two weeks.
"He's building up his stamina right now, so we'll see how it goes," Acta said. "Our medical staff has a plan for him."
Reserves get starts vs. Tigers
DETROIT -- Outfielder Austin Kearns and first baseman Andy Marte were penciled into the starting lineup for the first time this season Friday afternoon in blustery Detroit. Mike Redmond also started his second game of the season behind the plate.
Manager Manny Acta said that Matt LaPorta will play an average of five days per week while he is still recovering a bit from hip and toe surgery over the winter. The Cleveland manager also indicated that it is important for him to find his reserves some at-bats.
"We've got to get [Kearns and Marte] some at-bats and keep them fresh. Because, at this level, if you sit too long you may get a bit rusty," Acta said. "With the short night [following Thursday's 11-inning game in Chicago], this is a good time to get some new guys in the lineup."
The Indians arrived in Detroit just after 3 a.m. ET Friday morning from Chicago.
All arms available in Tribe bullpen
DETROIT -- After six Cleveland relievers combined to pitch six innings Thursday -- allowing just two hits and two earned runs -- everyone was available for duty on Friday.
At times the temperature dipped below the freezing mark Thursday night on Chicago's South Side, which could make it harder for pitchers to bounce back quickly. Rafael Perez (27 pitches) and Jensen Lewis (23) had the heaviest workload of the Tribe's bullpen corps.
However, pitching in cold weather and on back-to-back nights is part of the drill, according to manager Manny Acta.
"[All of our relievers] are available every day here," Acta said.
The Indians' bullpen allowed three earned runs and four hits in 13 combined innings in the series with the White Sox. Acta was generally pleased with his squad's relief pitching, but still would like to see his relievers cut down on the walks -- seven total in 13 innings.
"Those walks will get us in trouble," Acta said. "We could also do a better job pounding the strike zone."
On Thursday night Triple-A Columbus prized prospect Carols Carrasco picked up the win in that 17-4 victory. Carrasco, who was part of the trade last year that sent lefty Cliff Lee to Philadelphia, allowed three earned runs and eight hits in five innings. The 23-year-old struck out eight and walked one. ...Indians manager Manny Acta was pleased with Justin Masterson's performance Thursday, when the tall righty went five innings allowing just one earned run. "He threw a lot of strikes which is good," Acta said. "We'll continue to get him stretched out." ...Chris Perez's Spring Training struggles haven't manifested while he has filled in at closer for the injured Kerry Wood. In two games (both saves), Perez has walked just one and has yet to give up a hit. "It's a small sample, but he has been around the strike zone," Acta said. "In Arizona, he put too many guys on base. [Perez] has great stuff so he can handle the role." ...In the locker room before Friday's game, Mike Redmond jokingly told teammate Michael Brantley that, with the cold temperatures, he thought that his glove might feel "like a rock."
Mike Scott is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.