Brewers notes: Oblique sends Braun to DL
CINCINNATI—With no guarantee Ryan Braun would be ready to return to action this week as he dealt with a right oblique strain, the Milwaukee Brewers placed him on the 15-day disabled list Saturday retroactive to April 27.
To take his place on the 25-man roster, the Brewers reinstated outfielder Logan Schafer from the 15-day DL. Out since April 18 after suffering a strained right hamstring, Schafer was in the starting lineup in left field against the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday night.
“I think for a lot of reasons this made the most sense for me and for the team,” Braun said. “Just looking at it from a long-term perspective it made sense to try to get healthy now instead of really trying to force it and rush back, and the difference would have probably been only a couple games.
“If we’d really pushed it and things had gone really well, the earliest I would have played would have been maybe Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and at that point it’s only a couple days’ difference between going on the 15-day DL. That, combined with all the extra-inning games we’ve played and everything else we’ve been through, it certainly made sense.”
In addition to getting regular treatment, Braun has been playing catch from 75 feet as well as taking dry swings and swings off a tee. Braun suffered the injury making a throw from right field, so the plan is to continue to ramp up his baseball activity each day with the hope of having him ready when he is eligible to be activated May 12, an off-day for the Brewers.
“We’re headed in the right direction,” he said. “If we weren’t, I think we would have made this move immediately. It’s definitely gotten better. The oblique’s one of those tricky injuries that’s challenging in working your way back from it. It’s definitely something you need to be careful with, so hopefully we can completely get rid of it when I’m able to come back.”
Braun, who’s hitting .318 with six home runs and 18 runs batted in over 22 games, also has been able to gain a little additional off-time for his troublesome right thumb, which has been an issue all season.
“It definitely won’t hurt,” he said. “I can’t say with any amount of certainty that it will help, but it certainly won’t hurt.”
Schafer, meanwhile, returns to the Brewers with potential playing time waiting for him in right field along with the recently recalled Caleb Gindl, who has started both games there since joining the team from Class AAA Nashville on Friday.
“The hamstring held up. It was a lot better in Nashville than it was in Brevard (County),” Schafer said, referring to his two rehab stints. “Definitely doing fine and running fine. It’s incredible the fight this team has had. It’s always exciting to get back and try to help the team.”
Heart of the matter
The Brewers’ offense has struggled mightily in recent days, with Braun’s absence having something to do with that.
Cleanup hitter Aramis Ramirez has been having his issues as well. He missed two games after being hit in the left elbow with a pitch, but before and after that put together an 0-for-28 slump, which is tied for the longest of his 17-year career.
When asked about it, Ramirez shrugged his shoulders and chuckled. He also shrugged off the possibility his elbow is still bothering him.
“I’m fine. No excuses,” said Ramirez, who ended his skid later Saturday in his first at-bat against Reds starter Johnny Cueto with a solo home run to left. “The elbow has nothing to do with the way I’m hitting right now. It happens. You don’t want that to happen. You never want to let it happen during the season, but it happens. You’re not going to be hitting well for 162 games—that’s next to impossible.
“But the important thing is we’re winning, and that’s all that matters.”
Added manager Ron Roenicke: “Hopefully we can get Rami going. We need to get Rami going. He’s a run producer, we count on him and he’s usually so good at it.”
Day off for Davis: Roenicke had been wanting to get leftfielder Khris Davis a breather for a game, and adding Schafer on Saturday allowed him to do so.
While he’s had his moments—notably a three-homer week—Davis is in a 3-for-26 slump. He’s also struck out 34 times—one behind Carlos Gomez for the team lead—while walking only once in 109 at-bats.
“The strikeouts and not walking, we need to do better with that,” Roenicke said. “Last year I thought he looked at the ball better; this year he’s pressing a little bit more. I think that’s why you see no walks, basically, and the high punch-outs.
“He’ll get better at that when he gets his swing going and he’s confident.”