Final countdown for Braun to make All-Star team
CINCINNATI In a season marred by myriad injuries, poor play and just plain old bad luck, Ryan Braun has been one of the lone bright spots for the Milwaukee Brewers.
The leftfielder is putting up numbers similar to or better than he had up to this point in 2011, when he went on to win the National League's most valuable player award, with a .311 batting average, 20 home runs, 52 runs batted in, .596 slugging percentage, .392 on-base percentage and 13 stolen bases.
Will that be enough to earn his fifth consecutive starting nod in the All-Star Game? The Brewers certainly hope so.
Major League Baseball released its final balloting update Tuesday, and Braun ranked third among National League outfielders with 3,168,617 votes. The top three vote-getters are named starters for the game July 10 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City.
Matt Kemp of the Los Angeles Dodgers led all NL outfielders with 4,118,524 votes, and Carlos Beltran of the St. Louis Cardinals was second with 3,717,483. Braun's third-place standing is a reversal from last week, when he fell into fourth place behind Melky Cabrera of the San Francisco Giants.
Cabrera stood at 3,045,884 votes as of Tuesday, a reversal that Braun said he knew about but wasn't necessarily following.
"People always bring it up to me, especially the media, so of course I'm aware of it," Braun said Wednesday. "But we're playing a game every day, and it's far from the forefront of my thoughts or my focus. But I'm certainly always aware of it.
"I've always appreciated everybody's support. It's been awesome. It's really meant a lot to me."
Braun is bidding for his fifth consecutive all-star start, an honor that might well become a lock anyway with Kemp still dealing with a hamstring injury. But having to fight for votes is a new experience for Braun, who had led all NL outfielders in voting the previous four years.
Considering that and the tumultuous off-season he experienced with his successful appeal of a 50-game suspension in the wake of a positive drug test, Braun was asked if a starting spot would be more meaningful to him this time around.
"No," he said simply. "No."
Voting closes at 10:59 p.m. Thursday, and the Brewers are doing everything possible to try and get fans to use their 25 votes. Social media has been a valuable tool in getting the word out, and a team spokesman has even spent considerable time during the current road trip passing out "Vote Braun" placards and T-shirts to Brewers fans in the stands.
Those same T-shirts even made their way into all the lockers in the Brewers' clubhouse at Great American Ball Park.
While Braun said he won't be caught wearing one—"Never. No chance," he said—he's thankful for the team's support.
"It's very meaningful, absolutely," he said. "I definitely appreciate it."
Fans can vote on MLB.com, on the individual websites of the 30 major-league teams and also on mobile devices. The results will be announced at noon Sunday on TBS.
Braun played the entire game Tuesday despite being plunked on the left elbow in the first inning by the Cincinnati Reds' Bronson Arroyo.
He was feeling the effects Wednesday, however. So much so that he was unable to play in the series finale.
"I can barely bend my arm," said Braun, who also was sporting a bandage on the spot he was hit.
Braun wears a neoprene sleeve with some additional padding on the elbow, but the ball still hit him with enough force to injure him. He's now been plunked seven times on the season, third most in the National League.
Braun remains hopeful between the day off Wednesday and Milwaukee's scheduled off-day Thursday that he'll be back in the lineup Friday, when the Brewers open a three-game series with the Arizona Diamondbacks at Miller Park.
Morgan, fan clash
Nyjer Morgan got tangled up with a Reds fan while chasing a foul ball in the ninth inning Wednesday.
The play occurred with Devin Mesoraco at the plate and Livan Hernandez on the mound. Mesoraco lofted a fly ball down the right-field line that drifted just over the concrete wall, and Morgan went to make a play on it.
It looked as if he had a bead on it, but a fan in the front row also reached his hands up to try and catch it and got tangled up with Morgan.
Morgan then appeared to shove the fan as he was backing away and exchanged a few words with him before first-base umpire Marty Foster shuttled Morgan back toward the outfield.
"Our hands just got tangled up," Morgan said. "It was just one of those things where I could have made a play on the ball and I just gave him a little ‘get off me' because he was all on my arm and everything.
"Nothing major. Everybody might blow it up a little differently. But just one of those plays where I thought I could have had the ball, and their fans are helping out their team."
Manager Ron Roenicke didn't think the incident was a big deal.
"I thought the umpire did a nice job of getting him away from him and just trying to calm that down," he said. "That's what the fans are supposed to do for the home team. Really, it is."