Repeat destination nothing new for Branyan
After long travel day, slugger joins Mariners in Milwaukee
MILWAUKEE -- Russell Branyan has a history of retracing his steps. On Sunday, however, the path back in time was a circuitous one.
Returning to a franchise for a second tour of duty is nothing new for the slugger, and Seattle became his third career repeat destination when he was traded to the Mariners on Saturday. Branyan spent the 2009 season wearing the Seattle uniform, and he enjoyed his best season with 31 home runs and 76 RBIs.
Branyan arrived in Milwaukee just before game time and was available to pinch-hit, but did not start Sunday's series finale against the Brewers. He learned late Saturday that he had been traded from the Cleveland Indians, and his day included a flight from Cincinnati to Atlanta, then up to Milwaukee.
"I have a lot of friends over here and had a great time here last year," Branyan said. "Playing in Cleveland was a good time. We had a lot of young players over there who really embraced the situation. ... If you're going to get traded mid-season, you'd like to go somewhere where you know some of the people and know some familiar faces, so it's good to come back."
When Branyan missed the final month of the 2009 season with a back ailment and Seattle elected not to re-sign him, he returned to Cleveland -- where he spent parts of five seasons beginning in 1998. The Brewers had Branyan from 2004-05, then again during their '08 playoff run.
In fact, Branyan owns three of the five longest home runs in Miller Park history, including a 480-foot blast that ranks as the longest. Surely, that was on Milwaukee closer John Axford's mind when he struck out the last batter of Sunday's game with Branyan -- representing a potential tying run -- standing on deck.
"Just like any at-bat, you get a chance to go up there in a situation like that, you want to come through," Branyan said. "It's a tough loss today. We didn't really get anything going."
Branyan, who became just the second player in franchise history to top 30 home runs in his first year with the Mariners, has always been prone to injury, but his raw power is unquestioned.
"There's always a risk when you acquire players, especially those who have had injuries," Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said. "Our trainers have talked. I talked to [Indians GM] Mark Shapiro about this issue. Russell's done a great job maintaining his program, and he feels he's in good shape right now.
"I know it's going to be popular with the players because I know they liked him, and he's fond of Seattle as well as the players. I think it gives us a legitimate threat in our lineup, and it was important for us to do this at this time. ... It's looked at like a little bit of a homecoming for him."
Sweeney placed on 15-day disabled list
MILWAUKEE -- As it turns out, the back spasms that led to Mike Sweeney's late scratch from Saturday's lineup were more than just a day-to-day circumstance.
Sweeney was placed on the 15-day disabled list Sunday and the Mariners recalled pitcher David Pauley to aid a tenuous bullpen situation.
"We don't think it's as bad as what it was before," said Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu, referring to the back inflammation that landed Sweeney on the DL from June 7-18. "Right now, it's just a spasm. This is not really as drastic or in the same area as the last muscle spasms."
Typically the team's designated hitter, Sweeney made a pair of dandy defensive plays at first base against Milwaukee on Friday and also delivered two hits. He was slated to play first again Saturday before a late lineup switch.
Pauley signed with the team as a Minor League free agent in December and hasn't seen big league action since 2008, when he struggled in six games with the Boston Red Sox. Pauley also appeared in three games with Boston in '06 and enjoyed success at Triple-A Tacoma despite a 1-6 record. His ERA stood at 3.68, and he had developed a penchant for working deep into games.
"In two games, I went eight or more [innings], and I think in all but one I went six or more," Pauley said. "I'm throwing strikes and getting ground balls, which is what I need to do. It's just nice to be back."
Pauley could be needed immediately. The team essentially remains at five relievers for Sunday's game after Brian Sweeney threw four innings of sterling relief Saturday. Wakamatsu said he preferred to use Garrett Olson in matchup situations and Brandon League cautiously, with both harboring a heavy workload in recent games.
"For right now, I can kind of be that long guy if they need some extra innings," Pauley said.
Pauley takes the 40-man roster spot of Minor League shortstop Ezequiel Carerra, one of the two players traded to Cleveland in the acquisition of Russell Branyan on Saturday night.
Bedard dazzles in brief rehab outing
MILWAUKEE -- Erik Bedard passed another test in his return from August shoulder surgery, delivering four excellent innings in a rehabilitation start Saturday night with Seattle's Arizona League squad.
The left-hander worked four innings, allowing one run on three hits with eight strikeouts and no walks against the Arizona Angels. A leadoff double in the third came around to score on back-to-back groundouts to incur the only damage against the mending pitcher, whose velocity reached 93 mph during his 68-pitch outing.
"The thing we're looking at is 14 out of 15 curveballs for strikes yesterday -- he didn't have command of that pitch before," said Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu. "He threw a few changeups, which were good. He felt great."
Bedard will throw a bullpen session in Arizona on Monday and will start in Tacoma on another rehab outing Thursday. Wakamatsu said he expects him to throw in the 75-85 pitch range.
Manager Don Wakamatsu announced the rotation going forward after Cliff Lee and Felix Hernandez pitch the first two games of the upcoming series against the New York Yankees. Ryan Rowland-Smith will finish the series Thursday, with Doug Fister and Jason Vargas pitching each of the next two dates. Rowland-Smith was a candidate for use out of the bullpen with the team short on relievers, but with the addition of David Pauley on Sunday, that need subsided. The team has an off-day Monday, so Fister and Vargas will each pitch on an extra day of rest. ... Closer David Aardsma became a father for the first time Saturday night, when wife Andrea gave birth to a baby boy, weighing in at 7.8 pounds and measuring 19 inches long. Aardsma remains on track to rejoin the team Tuesday in New York. ... Chone Figgins entered Sunday 4-for-4 in stolen-base attempts during the series with Milwaukee. At 83.3 percent, he's swiping bases at the best percentage of his career. ... Sunday also marked a day of rest for Franklin Gutierrez, who fouled a ball off his right knee Saturday and experienced swelling Sunday. He is day to day.
JR Radcliffe is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.