Brewers rest Braun, until PH two-run double

Brewers rest Braun, until PH two-run double

CHICAGO -- Brewers manager Craig Counsell had to make a tough decision regarding balancing Ryan Braun's hot bat with the slugger's need for rest.

Despite a torrid start to the season, Braun was not in the Brewers' starting lineup Tuesday against the Cubs. That's not cause for concern, but rather part of a plan to keep Braun producing throughout the season.

Braun did, however, get an at-bat, roping a two-run double to right field to trim the Brewers' deficit to one run in an eventual 4-3 Milwaukee loss to the Cubs.

Prior to the game Tuesday, Counsell said the Brewers had been planning to rest Braun, and Tuesday ended up being the best time to do it. That meant overcoming the temptation to ride Braun's hot streak.

Counsell said the goal is for Braun to play about 140 games this season, with no set strategy for how he gets there.

"You could go every day to immediacy," Counsell said. "I think you get yourself in trouble in April doing that. We're trying to keep him as close to 100 percent as we can, so there's going to be off-days in there. If it still adds up to the 140 at the end of the season, I think we'll be pretty happy."

The Brewers had an off-day Monday, so this gives Braun two days' rest in front of a stretch of 19 more games before the team's next day off.

"Sometimes it's going to be [two days in a row], obviously when we have this stretch now of 20 days in a row, I don't think we'll do it like that, but we could," Counsell said.

Through 19 games played (only one off), Braun is hitting .373 with five home runs and 17 RBIs. He has started strong in several seasons, but at this pace, only his 2011 start is better. That year, Braun was hitting .367 with 10 home runs and 23 RBIs at the end of April.

"He's off to as good of a start as he's ever had, so we're just trying to keep him there," Counsell said.

Garza, others slowly progressing

The Brewers have three pitchers on the 15-day disabled list, and progress remains slow and steady with each -- right-handers Matt Garza and Corey Knebel, and left-hander Will Smith.

Counsell said Tuesday that Smith has progressed the most, advancing to the point of playing catch. Garza has begun throwing, but still in a limited fashion.

Bundling up

The Brewers are in for a chilly three-game series in Chicago. Temperatures near game time on Tuesday were in the low 40s, and forecasts for the next two days indicate temperatures in the low 50s with strong winds and a chance of rain.

Counsell had a weather report pulled up on his computer before Tuesday's game, and though his players have seen such conditions before, that doesn't mean weather can't make some difference.

"When you play here and the wind blows in, it's just a different run-scoring environment," Counsell said. "I think that can affect some changes that happen in the game, but it doesn't really affect anything other than that."

Cody Stavenhagen is a reporter for MLB.com based in Chicago. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.