Angels’ Russell Branyan still adjusting to change
Russell Branyan knows the drill. Get traded or released. Pack your bags. Say farewell to teammates and coaches. Break the lease. Sign with another club. Meet new teammates and coaches. Find a place to live. Blend in. Lather, rinse, repeat.
The well-traveled slugger has been through it so many times, having played for 10 teams in his 14-year big-league career, you’d think he’d be impervious to change, that he’d have a set routine to deal with upheaval.
But it never gets easy. Since he signed with the Angels on May 26, Branyan has three singles and nine strikeouts in 23 at-bats for a .130 batting average in eight games, his only run batted in a sacrifice fly against Minnesota on May 27.
“I don’t think you ever get it down to a science,” Branyan said. “Every team is a group of new guys and you’re trying to fit in, learn new people and what the coaches expect. Any time you get released and picked up by a new team, there are some adjustments.”
The toughest one might be mental, fighting that overwhelming desire to impress a new employer.
“Being the new guy, I put some pressure on myself early,” Branyan, 35, said. “I’m trying to back off and realize I wasn’t brought here to carry the club. I was brought here to help. The hits haven’t been falling, and I’m not squaring up balls like I can, but I’m starting to feel comfortable at the plate.”
He won’t have as many chances to get locked in. The left-handed-hitting Branyan started six of seven games through Friday, five at designated hitter and one at first base, but the return of Howie Kendrick, who started in left field Saturday night, will cut into his playing time.
Left fielder Bobby Abreu will return to more of a full-time designated hitter role, and Branyan, who was not in Saturday’s lineup, will back up Mark Trumbo at first base.
When left fielder Vernon Wells, who will begin a short rehabilitation stint with Class-A Inland Empire on Sunday, is activated, Kendrick, who plays second and first, will return to the infield, further reducing Branyan’s at-bats.
“We’ll get him as many at-bats as we can,” Manager Mike Scioscia said. “Right now, he’s definitely searching for his timing, but his bat speed seems fine.”
Weaver the workhorse
Jered Weaver threw 125 pitches in a 15-strikeout game against Toronto on April 10, a career high at the time. The right-hander topped that with a 128-pitch effort in Minnesota on May 28, and he has thrown 110 pitches or more in nine of his 13 starts.
The Angels are monitoring Weaver’s pitch counts closely, but at the moment, they see no reason to be overly concerned about his heavy workload.
“He’s been over 120 pitches a few times, but he’s finished strong each time,” Scioscia said. “If a guy throws so many pitches he can’t reset five days later, that might be too much. If a guy resets, throws his [between-starts] bullpen OK, you know he’s absorbed that pitch count and moved on.”
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