Branyan hopes to play in Cactus games next week

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Branyan Indians.jpgRussell Branyan, who has been sidelined for the entire exhibition schedule because of a herniated disk in his back, hopes to play in a minor league game as soon as Monday.

“If you look at Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, that’s only three days,
but, in the scheme of things, that’s a lot of time,” Branyan said.
“Monday means a lot more than Wednesday, as far as getting ready for
Opening Day.”

The clock is ticking on Branyan, who just participated in outdoor batting practice for the first time all spring on Saturday. If all goes well on Monday, Branyan could play in a Cactus League game on Tuesday, but that’s assuming his nagging back condition won’t step in.

Branyan’s progress over the next week will have a significant impact on how the Indians’ Opening Day roster will play out. If Branyan is ready, Matt LaPorta will move from first base to left field, while prospect outfielder Michael Brantley will be ticketed for Triple-A Indianapolis.

Sort of makes you wonder why a rebuilding team signed such a roster headache in the first place. Rest assured, even if he is ready, Brantley will eventually see some time in the major leagues this season when Branyan inevitably hits the disabled list.

Magic Johnson to take over the Lakers, but will still be part of Dodgers ownership

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 15:  Earvin 'Magic' Johnson attends game one of the National League Championship Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Wrigley Field on October 15, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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This is more significant for basketball fans than baseball fans, but Magic Johnson is taking over basketball operations for the Los Angeles Lakers. Dan Feldman over at PBT has the full story on that.

For our purposes, you probably know that Johnson is part of the Dodgers ownership group. Anthony McCullough of the L.A. Times got comment from the Dodgers, saying that despite his new full-time job, his status with the Dodgers will be unchanged:

Maybe I’m alone in this, but I’m not entirely certain what Magic does with the Lakers, so the first clause in Kasten’s comment may be doing most of the heavy lifting here.

Matt Wieters is close to signing with the Washington Nationals

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 02: Matt Wieters #32 of the Baltimore Orioles connects on a two-run home run in the fourth inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on October 2, 2016 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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Jon Heyman reports that the Nationals are closing in on a deal with catcher Matt Wieters. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that it’s a two-year deal. UPDATE: Ken Rosenthal reports that the deal is for two years, at $21 million. There is an opt-out for him after year one. He will get $10 million in 2017 and, if he returns in 2018, he’ll get $11 million.

Wieters was not expected to go this long without signing, but his market, which many thought would be robust, never materialized. The Nats had been rumored to be interested for months, but they were apparently waiting to swoop in late and get what one presumes will be a bargain.

Wieters, 30, finished last season hitting .243/.302/.409 with 17 home runs and 66 RBI in 464 plate appearances. The Nationals currently have Derek Norris and Jose Lobaton, so who falls where in the catcher fight in Washington is unclear, but one presumes that Wieters getting a two-year deal puts him at the top of the depth chart.