Braun’s thumb hurting again
Bad news for the Brewers: The thumb issue that compromised Ryan Braun’s 2013 season long before he was suspended is an issue once again.
Braun was limited to designated hitter duties for Friday’s Fenway Park opener because of the troublesome nerve between his thumb and forefinger. Braun can manage the pain he experiences when swinging the bat, but now is dealing with numbness throughout his thumb, which led to “crazy bruises and blisters” because he cannot tell how hard he is gripping the baseball for throws.
The hope, Braun said, is that a day off from throwing would give the Brewers’ athletic training staff time to treat the blisters. He hoped to be back in right field when the series continues Saturday.
Asked whether he worried this would bother him indefinitely, Braun said, “I hope not. I’m optimistic that eventually we’ll figure something out. It just kind of is what it is. Everybody deals with different things. I know what the alternative is, and I’m not ready to consider anything like that.”
That alternative, Braun learned during multiple visits this spring with hand specialist Don Sheridan, is surgery. Braun did not detail what sort of rehabilitation such a procedure would require, but suggested it would not be a quick fix.
Braun was bothered by the same thumb in the early months of last season, when he batted .298 with nine home runs and 38 games. He hit only two home runs after April 26, and none in 20 games from May 24 through his July 22 suspension for the remainder of the season.
Braun did not have surgery at that time because there are no guarantees it will work, and the hope existed that rest would resolve the problem. It did improve during his hiatus, and Braun belted a home run in his first Spring Training at-bat and hit three homers in the spring overall.
But as the at-bats piled up and Spring Training wore on, the problem returned, even as Braun and the medical staff found acceptable ways to pad his thumb when batting.
“I had the luxury of five months off. I’d never had that luxury before and I won’t have it again, so if that didn’t make it go away I don’t know what will,” Braun said. “I just deal with it the best I can. I know that it is what it is. I’m optimistic that eventually, we’ll figure something out.”
Follow me on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy