Ryan Braun acknowledged to reporters Friday that the lingering numbness in his right thumb is affecting both his throws and swings, and he was out of the Brewers’ starting lineup on Saturday night against the Red Sox. But he will try to give it a go in Sunday afternoon’s series finale at Fenway Park.
Braun is batting third and playing right field.
Undergoing surgery is not currently a consideration and Braun is hoping to find a form of daily treatment or protective padding that will allow him to play through the thumb injury. Here’s how he described the feeling to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
“The analogy is if you touch a hot stove, no matter how badly you want to keep your hand there, the natural reaction will be to take your hand off it. That’s kind of what happens every time I make contact, when it gets bad. No matter what I want to do or try to do, I can’t keep two hands on the bat.”
That sounds like it could be a serious problem. Braun was wanting to make a good impression this season after missing the final 65 games of the 2013 campaign for his involvement in Biogenesis.
Free agent outfielder Michael Saunders has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Royals, the team announced Friday. While the move comes just two days after Saunders agreed to terms with the Pirates, he allegedly asked for his release after the club acquired outfielder Corey Dickerson in a multi-player swap with the Rays on Thursday.
After earning his first spot on an All-Star team in 2016, Saunders followed up a solid campaign with a career-worst performance in 2017. The 31-year-old split the season between the Phillies and Blue Jays’ camps, batting a combined .202/.256/.344 with six home runs and -0.7 fWAR in 234 plate appearances. Although he remained healthy throughout the year, with no sign of the lingering hamstring strain that has plagued him on and off since 2013, he wasn’t productive enough to merit a full-time role on either roster.
With Dickerson slated for a starting role in Pittsburgh, it was unlikely that Saunders would have commanded anything other than a backup role in 2018. Now, however, he’ll compete for playing time amid a slew of outfield options, including Alex Gordon, Cody Asche, Jorge Bonifacio, Tyler Collins and Paulo Orlando.