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January 13, 2010 at 3:12 PM

Russell Branyan says he is pursuing talks with interested teams — but not the Mariners

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Russell Branyan has indeed mentally moved on from the Mariners, to the point where he says he is going forward with offers 9or at least, expressions of interest) from teams other than Seattle. Branyan really wanted to come back to the Mariners this season, and told me that’s the reason why he wanted a multi-year deal. To solidify a long-term relationship with the club.
“I really loved it there,” he said, from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where he’s visiting with friends and working out daily. “I really had a great time. It was a great situation there. I really felt comfortable. I would have loved to come back but right now it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. I’ve seen crazier things happen in baseball, but right now, I guess I’m to the point where I’m moving forward with the offers we’ve got and talking with teams that have expressed an interest in me for next year.”
Those teams, he added, do not include the M’s.
Branyan telephoned GM Jack Zduriencik after the Casey Kotchman trade to thank him for giving him a full-time shot in the majors after nearly a decade as a part-time player. Branyan said that his thinking after the Kotchman deal was that the Mariners no longer had the budget to compete for his services.
Branyan feels strongly that he proved himself as a full-timer last year, hitting 31 home runs even though he missed the final seven weeks of the season with a back injury. He wants a full-timer’s major league money.
I asked him whether it was true he was holding out for more than a one-year deal and he told me, as I mentioned, the reason why he was seeking that from Seattle. As for other clubs, he wouldn’t say how long their specific offers were for (or whether they had even made anything formal), but did add: “For about 98 percent of the (free agent) players still out there, it seems like teams aren’t really interested in talking about a multi-year deal.”

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From that, I gather he’s got at least some verbal possibilities on one-year deals he can move on but wants to wait a bit to see whether the offers can be expanded.
Branyan told me his back has felt much better and that he’s been back to baseball-related activities the past couple of weeks. He’s now playing catch from a distance of 120 feet.
“I feel great,” he said. “I feel 100 percent. It took a little longer than I expected…but now I feel great.”
Branyan did say he suffered “a slight setback” in his recovery when he and his therapist did some work that went “out of the protocol” of his rehab. The Mariners have seemed skittish about Branyan’s health the past few months and that might explain why.
On the other hand, Branyan said he was a bit puzzled by some newspaper comments from Zduriencik at the Kotchman press conference in which he indicated that he’d “left no stone unturned” in doing “due dilligence” on Branyan and other free agents.
“I’m a little bit confused because I read something that the team left no rock unturned when it came to looking at me,” Branyan said. “I assume it was about my health, but my health was fine.”
Branyan added that the team’s own doctors told him last year that his back would be fine once it got some needed rest and therapy.
“Doctors were telling me that once it heals, you normally get on a pretty strict protocol and it shouldn’t flare up again,” he said. “And that I should be able to come back stronger than ever.”
Obviously, somewhere along the line, something changed. Perhaps it was because of the “slight setback” from rehab work outside the protocol, or, perhaps it came down to money and length of contract.
For now, both sides appear to have moved on.
Branyan insists he isn’t bitter and has fond memories of his time here.
“I’ll always look back on my time in Seattle with nothing but good thoughts,” he said. “It was a great atmosphere and a great situation for me to be in. I really wanted to go back there, but for now, it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen.”



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