Ryan Braun leaves game with strained intercostal muscle

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Ryan Braun left this afternoon’s game against the Diamondbacks after the top of the first inning due to a strained left intercostal muscle, according to Adam McCalvy of MLB.com.

The team has him listed as day-to-day right now, but there’s some reason for concern here. Braun has suffered intercostal injuries multiple times in the past, including one that carried into the 2009 season. There’s nothing to suggest that today’s injury will impact his availability for Opening Day, but look for the Brewers to take every precaution here.

Braun batted .304/.366/.501 with 25 homers, 103 RBI, 14 stolen bases and an .866 OPS last season. He is often overlooked in the conversation about the game’s best sluggers, likely by virtue of where he plays, but the 27-year-old outfielder has compiled 128 home runs over his first four seasons, eighth-highest in major league history. As you can see below, the company is pretty impressive.

1. Ralph Kiner – 168

2. Albert Pujols – 160

3. Eddie Matthews – 153

4. Mark Teixeira – 140

5. Joe DiMaggio – 137

6. Frank Robinson – 134

7. Ryan Howard – 129

8. Ryan Braun – 128

9. Ted Williams – 127

10. Chuck Klein – 125

(Hat-tip to the irreplaceable Baseball Reference)

Must-Click Link: Remembering Eddie Grant the first major leaguer to die in combat

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As you get ready for Memorial Day weekend and whatever it entails for you and yours, take some time to read an excellent article from Mike Bates over at The Hardball Times.

The article is about Eddie Grant. You probably never heard of him. He was a journeyman infielder — often a backup — from 1905 through 1915. If you have heard of him, it was likely not for his baseball exploits, however: it was because he was the first active baseball player to die in combat, killed in the Battle of the Argonne Forest in October 1915.

Michael tells us about more than Grant’s death, however. He provides a great overview of his life and career. And notes that Grant didn’t even have to go to war if he didn’t want to. He was 34, had the chance to coach or manage and had a law degree and the potential to make a lot of money following his baseball career. He volunteered, however, for both patriotic and personal reasons. And it cost him his life.

Must-read stuff indeed. Especially this weekend.

The Indians are unveiling a Frank Robinson statue on Sunday

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The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.

Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.

Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.

Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.