The short season hasn’t even started, and Ryan Braun is already broken down physically.
A 60-game MLB season creates the idea of controlled chaos and unexpected outcomes. For Ryan Braun, the short season caused him to move from strongly hinting at retirement to being open to playing beyond 2020.
The Milwaukee Brewers would surely love to have a healthy (or at least mostly healthy) Braun in the lineup when the season starts later his week. The universal DH rule is ideal for someone like Braun, coming off a solid offensive campaign in 2019 (.285, 22 home runs, 75 RBI, 31 doubles, 11 stolen bases) but with limitations and no every day spot defensively. He played the most games he has played since his MVP runner-up season in 2012 last year.
Braun was held out of Sunday’s intrasquad game with what manager Craig Counsell deemed “normal aches and pains.”
On Monday morning, via Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Counsell suggested Braun may not be ready for Opening Day while mentioning some specific injuries.
Ryan Braun’s body is already giving out, which is a bad sign for the Brewers
Back, oblique and neck issues are nothing to dismiss as singular injuries, almost regardless of severity, let alone as collective “aches and pains” (a term Counsell apparently used again, perhaps in an effort to assuage concern). Even if one of Braun’s aches and pains goes away, he’s dealing with two more that could be crippling.
The Brewers will start the season on the road against the Chicago Cubs Friday night. The confines of Wrigley Field have been very friendly to Braun in his career, so any absence during the opening series will hurt Milwaukee.
Being without at all Braun won’t be helpful in a short season. But it seems Counsell has some options to deploy at DH if necessary, as he moves pieces around the lineup (Logan Morrison, Jedd Gyorko, Justin Smoak, Lorenzo Cain, Keon Broxton, Ben Gamel).