More progress for Braun, but still no start

Ryan Braun’s All-Star Game availability was down to the wire Saturday after he missed a seventh consecutive Brewers start with his left leg injury. Braun insisted it was all part of the plan.

“I knew I wasn’t going to play today a week ago,” Braun said. “We’ve kind of had a timeline, a progression. Once you’re out for a little while, it’s a progression you have to go through. I hadn’t swung or done anything for a while, so I had to hit off the tee. Then soft toss. Then play catch.

“Now, today is the first day I’m going to be allowed to take batting practice, take some fly balls and attempt to jog for the first time in five days. I’ve kind of known all along that it was going to be a process.”

Publicly, Braun and the Brewers had been saying he was day-to-day. Braun said he didn’t want to give Brewers opponents — the D-backs and Reds — a competitive advantage by coming clean  about his unavailability.

Braun ran the bases and took batting practice Saturday afternoon before meeting with manager Ron Roenicke, general manager Doug Melvin and members of the Brewers’ medical staff. They discussed whether he could start Sunday against the Reds, and whether he would be available to start for the National League in Tuesday’s All-Star Game. Braun was the league’s leading vote-getter, and is in line to make his fourth consecutive All-Star start.

“My goal is still to play [Sunday],” he said. “But it depends on how today goes.”

Braun is planning to travel to Phoenix for the All-Star Game regardless of whether he plays. Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder and second baseman Rickie Weeks are also among the NL starters.

If he cannot play, Braun would join a list of stars who have had to pull out because of injuries. Phillies outfielder Shane Victorino and Yankees infielders Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez have already been replaced on the roster.

“It’s unfortunate for baseball,” Braun said. “Obviously, you want all of those guys to be there and be part of it, but injuries are also part of the game and unavoidable. I’ll be there for sure. The fans voted me in and the least I can do is be there.”

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