MILWAUKEE -- With a 5-1 loss to the Cardinals on Sunday at Miller Park, Ryan Braun and the Brewers reached a well-timed All-Star break.
While catcher Jonathan Lucroy jetted off to San Diego for the All-Star Game presented by MasterCard (Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. CT on FOX), the rest of the team welcomed a four-day rest. The Brewers lost 16 of their final 24 games before the break, with Braun among the offensive performers who cooled. He had two home runs and eight RBIs while playing in 21 of those 24 games.
"Look, I've been very fortunate that I've been to a bunch of All-Star Games. It's always a tremendous honor," said Braun, who missed the cut this year after finishing fifth in the SiriusXM All-Star Final Vote. "But getting a few days off from baseball, a few days to spend with the family, is a pretty amazing consolation prize. It's harder than ever to be on the road away from the family.
"And it's been a very challenging half, health-wise. It's been a grind coming off [offseason back] surgery and not knowing what to expect. The first couple of months were pretty smooth sailing. The last six weeks or so have really been a challenge. Certainly, I'm excited to have a few days of downtime."
Braun hit .348/.420/.581 with nine home runs and 31 RBIs in April and May, but fell to .276/.308/.447 with four home runs and 13 RBIs since then.
"Yeah, it could be better," he said. "I really thought after the first two months, my swing was as good as it had ever been. I was playing as well as I ever have. But I have the ability to finish strong. The key is always health. It's never easy. If I can get back to a place where I'm a little healthier, it gives me a chance to finish strong and have a really good year."
Braun pointed to positives in the first half, including contributions from newcomers Jonathan Villar, Chris Carter and Junior Guerra. Included on Braun's list was Lucroy, who rebounded from a tough season to make the All-Star team for the second time. Brewers owner Mark Attanasio chartered a private plane for Lucroy and his family Sunday to travel to San Diego.
"We've hit some adversity, and with a young team, we're going to hit some more," Lucroy said. "I think we've had some opportunities to learn from our mistakes. Hopefully, we have. But there's always positives to look at when you're in a rebuilding situation."
Braun planned to spend the week at home in Malibu with his wife and young daughter. The Brauns are expecting another child in September, so a break from baseball was welcomed.
Other players scattered immediately after Sunday's loss to the Cardinals. Manager Craig Counsell's commute was the shortest, since he and his family live in the Milwaukee suburb of Whitefish Bay, Wis.
His advice to players: Get baseball off the brain.
"There's a huge value in unplugging," Counsell said. "That has to be part of your break. It's really important that it's part of your break."
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.