Branyan's return getting closer

Branyan's return getting closer

CLEVELAND -- Russell Branyan moved into his locker at Progressive Field on Thursday morning, the first sign that he's nearing his readiness to join the Indians and come off the 15-day disabled list.

But first, Branyan, recovering from a lower back injury, still has some strides to make on the rehab front. His Minor League stint will move from Triple-A Columbus to Double-A Akron on Friday, so that he can remain close to Cleveland when the Clippers hit the road.

Branyan was 4-for-14 with two doubles and an RBI in four games with Columbus. But he has yet to play on consecutive days. Head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff said Branyan will play back-to-back days next week.

Also on the rehab front, closer Kerry Wood, who is on the DL with a strained back muscle, threw a 27-pitch bullpen session before Thursday's game and felt fine. Pitching coach Tim Belcher said the Indians were still determining whether Wood will go out on a Minor League rehab assignment or just complete simulated sessions before rejoining the Tribe.

"In the next four or five days, he'll face live hitters," Belcher said.