One of the more intriguing stories for Bisons fans to watch this season with their former parent is the return of slugger Russell Branyan to Cleveland. He's 34 now and long past his prospect days but he's also coming off his best big-league season -- 31 homers and 76 RBIs for the Mariners last year -- before a bad back saddled him for the final month.
Since he was traded by the Indians to the Reds in 2002, Branyan has really bounced around. He's been with six other teams after the Reds and even returned to Cleveland two other times -- slugging 25 home runs for the Bisons in 2004 and appearing in one game for the Herd in 2007. His 76 home runs in Buffalo are two shy of Jeff Manto's modern-era franchise record.
Can Branyan stay healthy this year and put up the kind of numbers the Indians saw last year in Seattle? Can he pick up the slack if Travis Hafner has yet another brutal season? Should be interesting. Here's some video of Branyan's press conference with Cleveland reporters a few days ago at the Tribe's spring camp in Goodyear, Ariz. (He gives it up to the '04 Bisons at the one-minute mark)
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