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.
All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.
The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.
It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.
It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.
Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉