Don't look now, but not only are the Seattle Mariners off to a hot start, but so is failed Indian experiment and Exhibit A for the "All or Nothing" swing Russell Branyan.
Branyan is batting .333 with 4 HR and an OPS of 1.029 in 57 at-bats so far in 2009. Small sample size be damned, Rus is crediting his hot start to getting to play everyday in Seattle after being jettisoned from Milwaukee. In Buster Olney's latest blog, he explains the chance he's been given:
"I wasn't expecting to hear that," said Branyan, on Thursday, "because over my career, I haven't been given that opportunity. It's been something that I dreamt of."
Did you know Branyan's tied for 464th on the all time homerun list? He's got 137 career dingers, but remember, this is also Branyan's 11th year in the majors.
Turns out, all Branyan needed (at least according to Branyan and Buster) was a little coddling.
So from time to time in spring training, Wakamatsu approached Branyan and assured him: You're my guy. You're my first baseman. Branyan recalls his new manager saying, "We just want to you to believe you're as good as we think you are."
For Branyan, these words were priceless, meaningful to someone who has always been a part-timer in the big leagues before this year. "As a part-time player, you feel pressed," said Branyan. "You have a tendency to press. If you have one at-bat as a pinch-hitter, or if you have one start, you don't know if that's going to be the only chance you have that week."
We'll see if that remains the case as the summer goes on and his sample size gets a little larger, after all, I don't think he's on his 8th different team for no reason other than no one would hug him enough before.