Ryan Braun returned to the Brewers’ lineup last night against the Pirates after sitting out Thursday’s game with tightness in his right Achilles tendon, but he’s still hurting.
Braun aggravated his Achilles and strained his right hip after after legging out a hit and stealing second base in the sixth inning. He stayed in the game at first, but was eventually replaced by Norichika Aoki in left field in the eighth inning.
According to the Associated Press, Braun acknowledged that he’s risking further injury by attempting to stay in the lineup, but he also made it pretty clear that he has no plans to take a break.
“The danger in trying to play through an injury constantly is it’s easy to re-irritate it,” Braun said. “Your body also compensates so it’s easy to hurt something else. I don’t think it’s too bad, but it doesn’t feel too good right now.”
“Pretty much any injury you have during the year doesn’t go away when you play every day,” Braun said. “The only way to get healthy is to take time off and it’s not something I’m really interested in doing.”
Braun went 1-for-3 last night and is hitting .310/.394/.603 with 14 homers, 36 RBI, 11 stolen bases and a .998 OPS over 49 games this season. While he hasn’t skipped a beat amid the controversy of his overturned PED suspension, the Brewers will enter play this evening 6 1/2 games behind the first-place Reds in the NL Central at 23-29.
UPDATE: Braun is not in tonight’s lineup.
Brewers’ right-hander Phil Bickford received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a drug of abuse, per the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin. This is the second time Bickford has been suspended for recreational drug use, as he was previously penalized in 2015 after testing positive for marijuana prior to the amateur draft.
Bickford was selected by the Giants in the first round of the 2015 draft and was later dealt to the Brewers for lefty reliever Will Smith at the 2016 trade deadline. He finished his 2016 campaign in High-A Brevard County, pitching to a 3.67 ERA, 10.0 K/9 rate and 5.0 BB/9 over 27 innings.
Two other suspensions were handed down on Friday, one to Toronto minor league right-hander Pedro Loficial for a positive test for metabolites of Stanozolol and one to Miami minor league outfielder Casey Soltis for a second positive test for drugs of abuse. Loficial will serve a 72-game suspension, while Soltis will serve 50 games. All three suspensions are due to start at the beginning of the 2017 season for each respective minor league team.
Brewers’ GM David Stearns issued a statement after the Commissioner’s Office announced Bickford’s suspension (via Vince Lara-Cinisomo of Baseball America):
We are very disappointed to learn of Phil’s suspension, but we fully support the Minor League Baseball Drug Prevention and Testing Program and its enforcement by the Commissioner’s Office. Phil understands he made a mistake, and we fully anticipate that he will learn from this experience.
Confirming a report from Tuesday, the Diamondbacks officially signed right-hander Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million contract on Friday. The 39-year-old stands to receive up to $4 million in incentives, per Jack MacGruder of FanRag Sports, with $250,000 kicking in when the veteran reaches 40, 50 and 60 appearances and $500,000 if he reaches 70.
Rodney came three games shy of the 70-appearance mark in 2016 during back-to-back stints with the Padres and Marlins. He put up a cumulative 3.44 ERA on the year, which effectively disguised the extreme split during his performances in San Diego and Miami. The Diamondbacks aren’t anywhere close to contending in 2017, but Rodney should stabilize the back end of their bullpen while providing Arizona GM Mike Hazen with a potential trade chip during next year’s deadline.
Hazen issued a statement following the signing:
With Fernando, we’re getting an established Major League closer and a veteran presence in the bullpen. It is helpful to have someone with his experience on the back end to slow the game down and get the final three outs.