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09/13/08 4:46 PM ET

Branyan feels good after rehab debut

Third baseman hoping to aid Brewers' playoff pursuit

PHILADELPHIA -- Gabe Kapler isn't the only Brewers player aiming for a late-season return from injury.

Third baseman Russell Branyan began a rehabilitation assignment on Friday at Maryvale Baseball Park in Phoenix and felt better than expected, according to assistant general manager Gord Ash.

Branyan has been out since Aug. 12 with a strained oblique muscle on his right side. He's working out with players assigned to the Brewers' instructional league and said before departing for Phoenix that he hoped to return after the Brewers' current three-city road trip.

"Hopefully I can come back in the final week and help out some way," Branyan said.

Branyan suffered the injury during batting practice in San Diego, and an MRI scan revealed that he tore part of the oblique muscle off his ribcage. The pain was so intense that Branyan believed he had broken a rib.

He was playing catch by last week and ran bases Wednesday at Miller Park. Friday offered his first opportunity to swing a bat.

The Brewers promoted Branyan in late May and he helped spark a sluggish offense with 11 home runs in his first 26 games.

"It was nice to be a part of that, and it's unfortunate right now that I'm not able to be out there," Branyan said. "Every team goes through it at some point in the season."

In his past 22 games, Branyan hit .176 with one homer and two RBIs.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.