Ryan Braun

Ryan Braun Getty

The Brewers are optimistic about Ryan Braun’s thumb


Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports that the Brewers are optimistic about Ryan Braun’s progress following his thumb procedure

“He has taken some batting practice off a pitcher,” said general manager Doug Melvin. “It’s not like he’s playing every day. You’re not going to get a good feel and judgment on it until then, when you’re playing every day, seven days a week, taking BP and all that. That’s the true test.

“But, right now, it sounds like everything is great. He’s just going to let it go through the normal healing process.”

It was a rough season for Braun, who battled through and inflamed nerve at the base of his right thumb, which impacted his ability to swing a bat. He finished with a career-low .777 OPS, doing worse than that in the second half.

Ryan Braun swings bat for first time since thumb procedure

Ryan Braun Getty

Ryan Braun underwent a cryotherapy procedure on his ailing right thumb on October 2, but Adam McCalvy of MLB.com reports that he has already resumed swinging a bat.

While cryotherapy sounds like something out of “Terminator 2,” the procedure involved having a nerve in his thumb exposed to subzero temperatures with a needle. Braun has been dealing with the injury dating back to the early part of the 2013 season, so the hope is that it will allow him to grip a bat without pain again. There isn’t much of a track record of this sort of thing with baseball players, but this procedure isn’t as risky or invasive as removing the nerve altogether. So they’ll try this route first.

Braun struggled through the injury this season, finishing with a career-low .777 OPS. He had a .669 OPS during the second half.

Ever wonder why Hunter Pence throws so awkwardly?

Hunter Pence

Giants outfielder Hunter Pence has never looked graceful on the baseball field, but we’ve always chalked that up to him just being goofy. There’s actually a legitimate medical reason behind his awkward-looking mechanics, though, as Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports found out.

Pence, 31, told the FOX broadcasters before Game 1 of the NLCS that he has Scheuermann’€™s Disease, a spinal disorder that he likely developed as an adolescent.

The condition affects the vertebrae, and the way Pence described it, he has no flexibility in his thoracic spine.

“€œThat’€™s why he throws the way he does,”€ Giants head athletic trainer Dave Groeschner said. “€œHe has no rotation in the mid-spine.”

Nevertheless, Pence has consistently rated among the best outfielders in baseball since he broke into the majors in 2007. According to FanGraphs, only five outfielders have been more valuable than Pence (29.2 WAR) since the beginning of the ’07 season: Matt Holliday (42.1), Andrew McCutchen (33.9), Ryan Braun (33.1), Jose Bautista (30.7), and Jayson Werth (29.9).

Pence has reached base in all six of the Giants’ post-season games thus far.

Ryan Braun to undergo thumb procedure on Thursday

ryan braun getty

Ryan Braun is in the Brewers’ starting lineup for Sunday afternoon’s season finale against the Cubs, but as soon as that game ends he will begin prepping for surgery that will hopefully correct a nerve issue in his right thumb that has been a source of discomfort since the early part of the 2013 campaign.

Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes Sunday that Braun will travel to the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopedic Clinic in Los Angeles on Thursday morning to have a cryotherapy procedure performed on the thumb by specialist Vernon Williams.

This procedure — which involves the freezing of damaged tissue — has never been performed on a thumb, but it’s been successful on other parts of the body and the Brewers and Braun feel like it’s worth a shot.

“When you can’t use your top hand as a baseball player, it drastically alters everything you do,” Braun told the Journal Sentinel this weekend. “I’ve tried to adjust; I’ve tried to find a way to deal with it the best I could. At times, I’ve been OK. But, for the most part, it’s been really difficult, really challenging and very frustrating.”

Braun is batting just .228/.295/.379 in 61 games since the All-Star break and .268/.325/.455 overall.

The 30-year-old outfielder is owed $107 million in guaranteed money through the 2021 season.

Billy Hamilton remains out of Reds’ lineup with concussion

Billy Hamilton

Billy Hamilton suffered what the Reds called a “mild concussion” while robbing Ryan Braun of a home run with a great catch Wednesday and the rookie center fielder remains out of the lineup for tonight’s game against the Pirates.

Yet another reason to stop referring to concussions as “mild.” No brain injury is mild and, as we’ve seen time and time again, no one has any real ability to predict how quickly an athlete will bounce back from one.

If he’s done for the season Hamilton would finish his rookie campaign hitting just .250 with a .295 on-base percentage and .355 slugging percentage in 152 games. His case for Rookie of the Year is built around his speed (56 steals, 23 caught stealing) and defense (18 runs above average according to Ultimate Zone Rating).