Brewers' left fielder returned to lineup Tuesday after six-game absence
By Adam McCalvy
MILWAUKEE -- A game and a half into his return from a weeklong absence for an arm injury, Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun found himself back on the bench, this time with a tight left calf.
Braun, who appeared to be limping as he took the field to start the fifth inning, was slow moving down the baseline on a single in what became a go-ahead, four-run inning that led Milwaukee to a 7-4 win over the Red Sox. Braun was already scheduled to sit out Thursday's series finale, according to Brewers manager Craig Counsell.
"I'm hopeful we can get this behind us pretty quickly," Counsell said.
He has harbored that hope all month, while Braun has fought a series of nagging injuries. Braun was productive in April, with a .960 OPS, seven home runs and 18 RBIs, but after his exit Wednesday, he has been limited to eight plate appearances in May.
Braun did not start a game on the Brewers' last road trip because of a tight trapezius muscle behind his right shoulder and a flexor muscle strain in his right forearm. An MRI over the weekend was promising enough that he returned to the starting lineup for Tuesday's series opener against the Red Sox and started again Wednesday.
But it became clear starting in the fourth inning, when Braun flipped Jackie Bradley Jr.'s single back to the infield rather than throw home to prevent the tying run from scoring, that he was not right. The issue that time, Counsell said, was the arm.
An inning later, it was the leg.
"I was going to give him the day [off on Thursday]. He'll be available to hit," Counsell said. "I don't have much more for you beyond that."
Braun's absence would mean more playing time for super utility man Hernan Perez, who collected two more hits and two RBIs Wednesday in a game he started at second base and finished as Braun's replacement in left field.
Perez is hitting .347 with nine extra-base hits and 11 RBIs in his last 13 games.
"They've put me a lot in left field, so if he is hurt, they are going to look at me and give me the chance to play every day," Perez said. "That's my goal, to play every day. Everybody wants that."
Last year, Perez started games for the Brewers at every position but pitcher and catcher. This season, he has already started at six different positions, including all three outfield spots.
"One of the strengths of this team is we have depth with our position players," Counsell said. "We can put guys in there, give guys days off, and I feel good about the lineup we're putting out there, no matter who is out there. It's definitely an area we strengthened ourselves this year. 'HP' is obviously doing a lot of that."
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.