Braun sits because of sore thumb

Ryan Braun was absent from the Brewers’ lineup Wednesday, with manager Ron Roenicke citing a flare-up of a right thumb injury that has bothered Braun for weeks.

Braun’s absence came with him squarely in the sports spotlight, after an ESPN “Outside the Lines” report renewed worry at Miller Park that he could face a suspension. But it was also notable because the Brewers sat cleanup man Aramis Ramirez on Wednesday as well, leaving the team without both of its usual middle-of-the-order hitters in the lineup against A’s right-hander Bartolo Colon. Ramirez has been missing most day games following night games to rest a still-healing knee.

“I would prefer, ideally, to have them different days,” Roenicke said. “Sometimes the way the schedule works out — what was it, a week ago I had them off the same day, also?”

That was May 27, the first day Braun needed a break because of a painful thumb injury that has forced him to adjust his swing.

“It’s the same thing with ‘Braunie’ [on Wednesday],” Roenicke said. “We gain a little bit, and then he’ll have a game where it really bothers him. Somehow, we have to get rid of this thing in the thumb. We need our third and fourth hitters. We’ve got both of them that I’m kind of nursing along, and we really need production.

“I think for us to get on a roll — we’re pitching better now, and hopefully that continues – but I’m concerned that the offense with [Jean Segura and Norichika Aoki] getting on base a lot, both [Braun and Ramirez] need to drive in runs, and both of them are trying to get by nursing some injuries that’s really preventing them from playing well. Braunie hasn’t swung the bat well for a while, and ‘Ramie’ is kind of off and on, but he’s not himself, either.”

Braun entered Wednesday batting .292 with nine home runs and 35 RBIs. He is batting .213 with one home run and seven RBIs in his last 15 starts, and was homerless in his last 51 plate appearances.

On top of that, the Brewers went into Wednesday’s game 22-35, and, personally, Braun was back in an unwanted spotlight after ESPN reported that Anthony Bosch, the former head of the Miami anti-aging clinic accused of providing banned substances to a number of high-profile players, had agreed to cooperate with Major League Baseball’s ongoing probe. According to the report, MLB will seek to suspend some 20 players connected to the clinic, including Braun, based on Bosch’s testimony.

Roenicke insisted he has seen no outward signs of frustration from his star left fielder.

“Not outwardly,” Roenicke said. “He’s frustrated, just like a lot of guys on the team are. He’s frustrated for two reasons: Because we’re not playing well as a team … and he’s not performing at a level he’s used to performing at. He has spurts where he does well, but he really hasn’t been consistent for a long period of time. Because we’re not winning, it becomes bigger to him.”

Of the Miami issue, Roenicke said, “It really doesn’t bother me, because I don’t know what’s going on, and really it’s not an issue to me. If something comes up, it comes up later on, but I really haven’t thought about this. The rest of the team, it’s not an issue. It’s something that’s been ongoing for a while now. Why it came up yesterday, I have no idea. There’s no reason for me to think any different about it now than I did in Spring Training.”


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