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July 26, 2010 at 4:40 PM

Russell Branyan still out of lineup, but could return tomorrow; M’s not worried about Ichiro…yet

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Beautiful day here in Chicago, where Russell Branyan is taking batting practice as we speak, but not in tonight’s lineup. The White Sox have lefty John Danks going, but manager Don Wakamatsu said the southpaw pitcher isn’t why Branyan is sitting.
“I told him all along, even yesterday, where he thought he might be able to hit…we’re just real conscious of making sure he’s 100 percent so we don’t have a recurrence of this,” Wakamatsu said. “To me, it’s let’s get him out there, have him go through a full batting practice and see where he’s at.”
Wakamatsu is also giving Justin Smoak an extra day to rest some bruised up legs. The team is going through a long stretch without a break, so guys will have to be rested here and there.
Speaking of which, Ichiro is going through a tough slump at the moment. He’s just 20-for-91 (.220) this month, but Wakamatsu has no plans to sit him just yet.
“He says he feels fine,” Wakamatsu said. “Again, he’s a the type of guy who never wants to miss a game or come out of there. But he says he feels fine, so we’ll just keep monitoring hm.”
Wakamatsu pulled Michael Saunders aside in the dugout this afternoon for a brief chat.
Turns out, it was about his defense.


Particularly, his defense on a coupel of plays lately.
“It’s just being real cogniscent of whether it’s a sure double or there’s a play at second base,” he said. “And going to the right base. Again, those are all things that come with experience. He’s got great instincts.”
Wakamatsu said he wasn’t referring only to the play on Friday, when Saunders took his time on a Mike Cameron double when it appeared he had a shot at the runner before he arrived at second.
“We saw it yesterday, too,” he said. “Where there’s a little bit of indecisiveness about whether it’s a sure double or a triple. But other than that, I think he does a great job out there.”
Wakamatsu said Saunders just has to keep hitting the way he has over a prolonged period and he’ll keep on developing. So, some good news for Saunders.

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