LA Angels: Can Russell Branyan add spark to anemic offense?
Before Thursday afternoon’s game between the Los Angeles Angels and Oakland Athletics, the Halos announced that Russell Branyan, released by the Arizona Diamondbacks on May 16, had been signed for the rest of the season. To make room for Branyan on the roster, Howie Kendrick was placed on the disabled list, retroactive to May 20.
Before Wednesday night’s game, Angels manager Mike Scioscia had been hopeful that Kendrick would continue to progress in his rehab from a strained hamstring, after running at 80 percent on Tuesday and taking ground balls on Wednesday. However on Thursday, Kendrick was placed on the DL to give him more time to fully recover from the injury suffered on May 19.
As for bringing Branyan on board, general manager Tony Reagins said that Branyan can bring some excitement and has knowledge of the AL West.
“We know what we’re getting,” Reagins told ESPN Los Angeles. “We know what his history is. He’s been in this league and this division, so he knows it pretty well. We know he has the ability to change the game with one swing, but we also know he has struck out in his career and he’ll take a walk.
“We’re excited about the possibilities of him helping us win ballgames, and that’s really the real reason why we brought him aboard.”
Branyan almost made his Angels’ debut a memorable one. After first baseman Mark Trumbo launched a blast into the rocks at Angel Stadium for a three-run homer, Branyan, pinch-hitting for Peter Bourjos, blasted a deep drive to center field that Coco Crisp tracked down on the warning track for the final out, giving the A’s a 4-3 victory and a split of the four-game series.
Up to that point, the Angels had only garnered three hits off A’s starter Brett Anderson, who baffled Angels’ hitters with a mix of fastballs and 12-6 curveballs for most of the game.
It remains to be seen how much action Branyan will see–much of it will depend on the continued progress of Mark Trumbo at the plate. Trumbo is now hitting .245 with eight home runs and 24 runs batted in.
Branyan can play multiple positions however, so Scioscia will have options. And any offensive options at this point will be a plus.