Braun headed back to DL with calf injury

Pina exits in second inning after HBP, has bruised elbow

Braun headed back to DL with calf injury

MILWAUKEE -- The no-longer-first-place Brewers are facing their first big dose of adversity.

Ryan Braun's 10th anniversary celebration was an abbreviated affair, as he suffered a recurrence of a left calf injury in the early innings of Thursday's 4-0 loss to the D-backs and followed catcher Manny Pina to Miller Park's training room.

Braun will land back on the disabled list Friday, when the Brewers carry a season-long four-game losing streak into their first game in nine days without the best record in the National League Central.

The news was more promising for Pina, who suffered a bruised left elbow when he was hit by a Robbie Ray pitch in the second inning. X-rays were negative.

"The reason we've had success is because we've had a lot of guys contributing," Braun said. "We're not dependent on one or two guys. Up and down our batting order, everybody is contributing. There are a lot of guys in the bullpen throwing the ball well. All of our starters are keeping us in games. Hopefully we win the next one and that turns things back around."

Braun was playing his third game off a 10-day stint on the disabled list for left calf and right arm injuries. The Brewers played it safe by giving Braun what manager Craig Counsell characterized as a scheduled day off on Wednesday against the Blue Jays, only to lose Braun again after one at-bat and four innings of defense on Thursday night.

Counsell on 4-0 loss

Braun is hitless in nine at-bats since returning from the DL. The team will know more about a timetable for Braun's absence after he undergoes an MRI scan.

"We're going to have to start over with it," Counsell said.

Braun exits with calf tightness

"It's not ideal, obviously," said Braun. "Same calf, same situation. I knew when I came back that I wasn't at 100 percent, but it was good enough that I was optimistic I'd be able to work through it."

He actually felt better at the start of Thursday's game, Braun said, than he felt Sunday against the Cubs or Tuesday against the Blue Jays. But he experienced a "grab" in his left calf running for a popup in the second inning.

"It just wasn't ready," Braun said.

Pina gets hit, leaves game

Braun's abrupt exit came two innings after Pina lay next to home plate in obvious pain following the hit by pitch. He eventually rose and exited the field with Brewers head athletic trainer Dan Wright.

"I thought it was going to be worse," Pina said. "Now I feel much better. Little tingling in my fingers, numb, but my elbow is good."

The Jett Bandy-Pina duo has been a bright spot this season for the Brewers, who traded longtime catchers Jonathan Lucroy and Martin Maldonado in 2016. The new duo entered Thursday sixth in the Major Leagues with an .814 OPS.

Pina hoped to be game-ready as soon as Friday, when the Brewers already had a pending roster move with starting pitcher Junior Guerra coming off the 10-day disabled list to start against Arizona.

The Brewers could simply place Braun on the DL to make room for Guerra and use a combination of Hernan Perez, Nick Franklin and Eric Sogard to cover left field, as they did during Braun's first stint out of the lineup. Or, they could promote an outfielder from the Minors.

If they opt for the latter, the list of options starts with top prospect Lewis Brinson. The 23-year-old, rated the No. 15 prospect in baseball by, went 1-for-4 with a double for Triple-A Colorado Springs on Thursday and is hitting .306 in 33 games this season.

Counsell did not rule out calling up an outfielder, saying, "We'll let you know tomorrow."

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for 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.