Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun left in the third inning of this afternoon’s series finale against the Phillies due to a nagging thumb injury. He struck out in the first inning and was subsequently replaced by Logan Schafer in left field in the third. Braun hasn’t homered since May 22 against the Dodgers. To boot, he has just three doubles is hitting .254 since his last homer.
The thumb issue, which has been bothering Braun for the better part of two weeks, has manager Ron Roenicke worried.
Via MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy:
“We’ve got to figure out what to do there,” Roencike said. “We’ve got to start going in the right direction with him, and sometimes it’s not. … I’m hoping we don’t have to [place him on the disabled list], but we start making gains and he says, ‘Yeah, I feel really good today,’ and then all of a sudden it’s a bad day and a setback.
“We keep going this back and forth. He’s out there playing, hitting third for us, and I expect the Braun that I’ve seen for the last two years, and he’s not the same. He’s still getting hits, he’s still helping us win games, but he’s not that guy that can carry a team like I know he can.”
Roenicke said he had a plan for Braun on the upcoming, three-city road trip, which includes a pair of off-days between stops.
Aside from the recent power outage, Braun is otherwise having a great season, hitting .304 with an OPS just south of .900, which is about 40 percent better than the league average.
The news has gone from bad to worse for Dodgers’ left-hander Julio Urias, who is scheduled for anterior capsule surgery on his left shoulder next Tuesday and expected to be sidelined through the middle of the 2018 season. His MRI came back negative on Wednesday, giving the Dodgers some hope that the 20-year-old’s bout of shoulder inflammation wasn’t masking any structural damage, but the pain lingered several days later and prompted further concern from the club. The procedure will be performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache.
Urias was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City in late May and placed on the disabled list with left shoulder discomfort several weeks into his assignment. At the major league level, he owned a 5.40 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 4.2 SO/9 through 23 1/3 innings, going 0-2 in five starts with Los Angeles. He made a brief rebound in Triple-A, posting three wins and striking out 17 of 67 batters in 17 1/3 innings before landing on the DL.
It’s a tough blow for the southpaw, who had yet to hit his stride in the majors before getting sidelined with shoulder issues. The Dodgers were especially mindful of this outcome for Urias, and had taken preventative measures to protect his arm by establishing a strict innings limit last season. According to club president Andrew Friedman, there’s a small silver lining here: while Urias’ injury will keep him out of work for at least 12 months, he doesn’t appear to have sustained any damage to his labrum or rotator cuff, and could be facing a much more streamlined recovery process as a result. Whether he’ll be able to rebound once he takes the mound again remains to be seen.
Tigers’ right-handed reliever Francisco Rodriguez was released on Friday, per a team announcement. The club recalled fellow right-hander Bruce Rondon from Triple-A Toledo in a corresponding move.
The former closer got the boot after losing his closing role in early May, giving left-hander Justin Wilson a chance to impress at the back end of the bullpen. It’s been a rough year for Rodriguez, who manufactured six blown saves and a 7.82 ERA, 3.9 BB/9 and 8.2 SO/9 over 25 1/3 innings for the Tigers. The final straw, it seemed, came with Robinson Cano‘s grand slam in the seventh inning of the Tigers’ 6-9 loss to the Mariners on Thursday.
While the demotion to a clean-up role and an apparent lack of communication caused Rodriguez considerable frustration, he’s two years removed from his last dominant performance as a major league closer and has shown few signs of returning to form. His recent slump doesn’t diminish the impressive totals he’s racked up over his 16-year career — 437 saves and six All-Star nominations among them — but if he can’t break out of it soon, he may not receive the kind of high leverage role he’s seeking with another big league team, either.