Again, 'just a day off' for Braun
Mark it down as another mysterious off-day for Brewers slugger Ryan Braun.
Coming off a 4-for-14 series in Arizona in which he became the sixth player in history to hit 100 homers in his first three seasons, Braun was out of the lineup for Monday’s series opener at Wrigley Field. It was Braun’s third day off in eight days, counting the team’s open date on Thursday, but neither Braun nor manager Ken Macha offered much in the way of explanation.
“Just a day off,” Macha insisted.
“Not playing,” Braun said. “That’s all I’ve got.”
And that’s all he would say, until he passed through the clubhouse a few minutes later.
“I don’t mean to be a jerk. I just don’t know what to say,” Braun said, throwing his hands in the air. “Who knows?”
When Braun was on the bench for the Brewers’ Sept. 7 game against Chris Carpenter and the Cardinals — Carpenter went on to pitch a one-hit shutout — Macha mentioned that Braun was getting treatment for a sore shoulder. Braun does get treatment on his right shoulder, but has refused to acknowledge any physical ailments. He stood by that stance on Monday.
“I’m fine,” he said.
Even if he were hurting, Braun probably wouldn’t say so because it would present a competitive advantage for the rest of the league’s baserunners and third base coaches. There’s also the possibility that Macha is following orders from the team’s athletic training staff in resting Braun, who does not like to miss games.
Braun entered this week’s four-game series against the Cubs batting .308 with 29 home runs and 99 RBIs while starting 138 of the team’s first 142 games. He was only 5-for-23 (.217) in previous at-bats against Cubs starter Ryan Dempster. Frank Catalanotto, a left-handed hitter who was 2-for-4 against Dempster, played left field in lieu of Braun on Monday and red-hot third baseman Casey McGehee served as the three-hole hitter.
Macha said he spoke to Braun before posting Monday’s lineup. Asked whether Braun might get more days off over the season’s final three weeks, Macha said, “We’re just looking at today. I hope he’d be ready for the games.”