Cardinals Acquire 3rd Baseman Russell Branyan

Veteran third baseman acquired from Philadelphia to help cover for Scott Rolen's absence.

With incumbent third baseman Scott Rolen out with shoulder problems and his season in jeopardy, the St. Louis Cardinals took action on Friday, acquiring journeyman infielder/outfielder Russell Branyan from the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for a player-to-be-named later.

The left-handed swinging Branyan, 31, has compiled a lifetime mark of .229 with 120 home runs and 298 RBI in 695 games with Cleveland, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, Tampa Bay, San Diego and Philadelphia. He enjoyed a 20-home run season for the Indians in 2001 and combined for a career-high 24 homers with the Indians and Reds in 2002, but also struck out 151 times that year.

Branyan was batting a combined .198 with nine home runs and 24 RBI and with 54 strikeouts in 131 at-bats with the Phillies and Padres in 2007. However, the Cardinals will actually be his fourth Major League organization in the last two months.

Branyan had been designated for assignment by the Phillies this past Monday after they acquired him on August 9 from Cleveland. The Indians had signed him as a free agent just two days before following his release by the Padres on July 28. He played just one game for Cleveland's Triple-A Buffalo club before they shipped him off to Philadelphia.

Branyan hit a pair of home runs for Phillies earlier this month, including a two-run pinch homer on Aug. 14 at Washington to win that game. He hit a pair of home runs against the Cardinals on May 11 at PETCO Park while playing for the Padres.

Over his career, Branyan has demonstrated power against the two clubs the Cardinals are chasing in the National League Central. Against the Cubs, Branyan has hit seven home runs and driven in 22 in 127 at-bats and versus his former teammates in Milwaukee, Branyan hit .308 with four homers and 12 RBI in 67 career at-bats.

Branyan has played third base, first base and outfield during his career and started at third for the Padres last season during all four games of their Division Series with the Cardinals. He owns several tape-measure homers including the longest ever (480 feet) at Milwaukee's Miller Park and San Diego's PETCO Park (453 feet). He led the Reds with six September homers in 2002.

Rookie Brendan Ryan has been playing third base for much of the time Rolen has been unavailable, but may now go back into the mix at his regular home at shortstop as well as second base. Normal third base backup Scott Spiezio remains on the restricted list due to a substance abuse problem. While team officials have said they expect Spiezio to be re-activated in September, the acquisition of Branyan signals that Spiezio's return is not imminent.

The 6-foot-3, 195-pound Branyan will wear uniform #33 and is eligible to play Friday night for the Cardinals as they entertain Branyan's former Reds club at Busch Stadium.

With the addition of Branyan, the Cardinals' 40-man roster is at capacity. Scott Rolen was placed on the 15-day disabled list creating room on the 25-man active roster to accommodate Branyan.



Brian Walton can be reached via email at brwalton@earthlink.net.

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