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News » NOTES Braun has negative MRI Star arrives in time to deliver clutch hit

NOTES Braun has negative MRI Star arrives in time to deliver clutch hit

NOTES  Braun has negative MRI  Star arrives in time to deliver clutch hit
Pittsburgh - It's early May and Ryan Braun already has undergone two MRIs.

Can that be good?

The answer seemed to be a definite no before the start of the Milwaukee Brewers' game Monday night against Pittsburgh. By the end of the evening, however, the story had changed considerably.

Braun wasn't on the premises at PNC Park when the game began. The all-star leftfielder stayed behind in Milwaukee to have an MRI performed on his ailing back after he sat out two games.

That test was negative, ruling out structural damage.

But Braun did not miss the entire game. He arrived at the ballpark in time to pinch hit in the eighth inning with the bases loaded and two out, and blooped a two-run double to right that tied the score, 3-3.

As for the MRI, assistant general manager Gord Ash said the Brewers wanted to make sure there was no underlying reason for the continued discomfort in Braun's back.

"We were just trying to rule out any possible reasons for the ongoing pain he is experiencing," Ash said.

Ash said team physician William Raasch did not think Braun's discomfort would be a long-term problem. One of the reasons the Brewers wanted the MRI was to gauge whether they were looking at a probable stint on the disabled list for Braun.

Much like the MRI performed on Braun's troublesome intercostal area in spring training, the team also wanted some peace of mind for Braun regarding his long-term health status.

"Dr. Raasch felt the MRI was of superior quality and was pretty confident they didn't miss anything," Ash said. "No tearing, no micro tearing. It all depends how quickly Ryan feels better.

"This gave us an idea of what we might have to do roster-wise. Where we've come to after this test is that it's best to wait and re-evaluate later on."

Ash said there was some discussion as to whether the current back problem was related to Braun being drilled high on the back by a fastball from Pittsburgh's Jeff Karstens last week. Since being hit by that pitch, Braun was 2 for 14 with six strikeouts before being sidelined.

"I asked Roger that specific question this morning and he said he couldn't rule it out," Ash said, referring to trainer Roger Caplinger. "But he did not have a specific answer for it."

Manager Ken Macha said he wasn't expecting to lose Braun to the DL.

"I'm hoping 'Braunie' is able to play (Tuesday)," he said.

It was evident just how much the Brewers missed Braun's presence in the starting lineup, especially against a left-handed pitcher, by the changes Macha made for the game against Pittsburgh lefty Paul Maholm. Bill Hall made his first career start in left field, allowing Casey McGehee to fill in at third base.

Macha wanted right-handed hitters against Maholm and both of his reserve outfielders, Chris Duffy and Brad Nelson, bat from the left side. Hall also had remarkable numbers against Maholm, batting .571 (16 for 28) with three home runs.

Because left field is so spacious at PNC Park, Macha said he wanted Hall's athleticism out there if he wasn't going to use one of his reserve outfielders. Hall borrowed a glove from centerfielder Mike Cameron and told Macha, "Let's go," but he didn't last long in left.

Duffy took over to start the bottom of the second inning because Hall was experiencing cramping in his right hamstring. Hall made a charging, diving catch of a sinking liner by Freddy Sanchez with one out in the bottom of the first and batted in the top of the second and flied out to deep center.

Before the game, Macha said he didn't consider it a gamble to put Hall in left.

"Billy's got more experience playing in the outfield," said Macha, referring to the 2007 season, when Hall played in center. "I'd like him to have some fun with this thing. He's been out in center. I'm not concerned about him at all."

Obviously, that fun didn't last. And, before the game ended, Braun was back in left field.

It was the first start of the season at any position for McGehee, who made the club in the spring as a utility infielder. McGehee had only nine at-bats, including four as a pinch hitter.

"You ask, 'How am I going to get these guys at-bats?' " Macha said.

"It kind of always works out that they get at-bats. I mentioned in spring training to always be ready."

Copyright 2009, Journal Sentinel Inc. All rights reserved. (Note: This notice does not apply to those news items already copyrighted and received through wire services or other media.)

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: May 5, 2009

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