ST. LOUIS -- Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez exited Monday's game against the Cardinals with a bruised left elbow after being hit in the arm by pitches in consecutive innings. X-rays came back negative.
Ramirez was struck in the sixth inning by a 94 mph fastball from Cardinals starter Michael Wacha, and struck again by a Pat Neshek slider in the seventh, forcing home a run to even the score, 3-3. He left the game before the Cardinals batted in the bottom of the seventh inning.
The Brewers are suddenly a banged-up bunch. They played Monday with only 23 healthy players, with right fielder Ryan Braun sidelined by a right rib-cage strain and shortstop Jean Segura still nursing a nasty cut on his face.
MRI alters Braun's diagnosis, but return date unclear
ST. LOUIS -- Ryan Braun emerged from an MRI scan on Sunday with a slightly different diagnosis for his right rib-cage injury. Instead of strained intercostals, Braun actually has a strained oblique, though his timetable to return to action remains nebulous.
"The main thing is we know exactly what it is now," Braun said, "and that means we know exactly how to treat it."
Is one diagnosis better than the other?
"I don't know if it makes a difference," said Brewers manager Ron Roenicke, who gets daily status updates from members of the team's medical staff. "Intercostals could take maybe a little longer to heal up than obliques. Intercostals -- I did mine way back when -- when you start talking about things between the ribs, it's a little harder to get the blood flow there. That's why they take longer to heal."
Braun has been getting twice-daily treatments, and walked around the clubhouse Monday wearing an "H-Wave" instrument, which electrically stimulates muscles to increase blood flow.
Roenicke mentioned a 3-5 day timetable for Braun on Sunday, but reiterated on Monday that it is notoriously difficult to predict recovery from rib-cage injuries. The Brewers were also without shortstop Jean Segura on Monday as he continued recovering from being struck in the face by Braun's bat on Saturday night.
"I'm totally guessing when I say those numbers, too," Roenicke said. "I ask the trainers what they think, but when you talk about the oblique muscle with Braun, it's really hard to guess how long that takes. Siggy's injury is a little bit different. When that swelling goes down, and he looked better today, if he looks better again tomorrow, hopefully he can take some BP [on Tuesday], and if he does, maybe he can see some action on Wednesday. Or maybe we have to go to Thursday."
What about Braun? Is there any chance he plays against the Cardinals?
"He was a lot better today," Roenicke said. "I didn't think he'd be able to, but sometimes, these things, you come in and they're a lot better. So if he's a lot better again tomorrow, it probably means he can start taking BP, and then we'll see where we are."
Even with backup catcher Martin Maldonado coming off his five-game suspension for Monday's series opener at Busch Stadium, the Brewers were shorthanded. Elian Herrera started in right field, with no true outfielder on the bench. Roenicke would use first baseman Mark Reynolds in a pinch.
Triple-A Nashville's Caleb Gindl is the only other outfielder on the 40-man roster. Another outfielder, Logan Schafer, is on the disabled list with a right hamstring strain, but began a rehabilitation assignment with Class A Brevard County on Monday and will be eligible to come off the DL for Saturday's game in Cincinnati.
Feeling more relaxed, Wang lights up radar gun
ST. LOUIS -- That 96 mph fastball unleased by Brewers left-hander Wei-Chung Wang against the Cubs on Sunday? Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke believes the reading was accurate.
"I think it's legit," Roenicke said. "Our [radar gun] is probably right in the middle or on the low side."
Wang, a Rule 5 Draft pick, made Milwaukee's Opening Day roster by throwing strikes at 91-93 mph during Spring Training, and the Brewers heard he could reach 94 mph. The 96 mph pitch opened some eyes in the dugout.
It came against Cubs infielder Darwin Barney, in a 1-2 count. The pitch was ball No. 2, but Wang came back with a 94 mph fastball to retire Barney on a fly ball to right field, then got Emilio Bonifacio on an inning-ending groundout.
"He was ahead in the count, and you could see a little extra effort into it," Roenicke said. "Usually, he's pretty loose, and he's smooth-throwing. That one, you could tell he wanted to throw it by the guy. I liked seeing that. We've been seeing 91s, so I think he's making sure he's throwing strikes. Now, maybe he's comfortable enough that he's going to let it go. …
"If he's able to throw that kind of velocity, and he throws strikes, now he's got to put it where he wants to. If he can start locating it not just strikes, but on the corners, side to side, now we're talking about a guy who has a chance to be a good pitcher."
For Wang, the scoreless outing against the Cubs marked a bounce-back from his six-run inning in Pittsburgh on April 17. It was also his first appearance since then.
Through translator Jay Hsu, he said he's just following the advice Kyle Lohse gave him in spring: Throw strikes.
"I feel more relaxed," Wang said. "Hopefully I can keep this progress."
Asked about the 96 mph pitch, Wang smiled and said, "Maybe it was the wind."