Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun has been bothered by a thumb issue, forcing him out of his team’s previous four games after being removed from the series finale against the Phillies on Sunday. A cursory look at his stats reveals a player enjoying a fine season, but Braun hasn’t homered since May 22 and has posted a .636 OPS in the time since, including only four extra-base hits.
Braun was to participate in batting practice to gauge how he felt, but it was “no bueno“, per Adam McCalvy:
“More of the same,” Braun said. “It basically has been the same for a while. Everything we have tried to get to the point where I can take a regular swing has not helped. We’ve tried different wraps on the bat, different padding on the batting gloves. We’ve basically tried everything we can think of.”
The last resort would be Braun’s first-ever trip to the disabled list.
“The next step is something I don’t want to do,” manager Ron Roenicke said before those batting practice swings. “But if that’s the best way to do it, then we’ll do it. That’s why we want to see where he is today. If he’s really good, then we know where to go.”
The Brewers are 27-38, barely ahead of the last-place Cubs in the NL Central. Losing Braun cripples an offense that is already given the unfortunate task of having to outpace their league-worst pitching staff, which allows 4.8 runs per game on average.
The Braves released veteran infielder/outfielder Jose Bautista on Sunday, per a team announcement. Right-hander Lucas Sims was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett in a corresponding move.
Bautista, 37, was recruited by the Braves in mid-April as a potential third base option. He inked a minor league deal with the club and lasted just 12 games in the majors, during which he batted a meager .143/.250/.343 with three extra-base hits and a .593 OPS across 40 plate appearances. While he isn’t too far removed from his last productive season in the big leagues — he collected 40 home runs, a .250 average and 5.3 fWAR with the Blue Jays in 2015 — his power has been noticeably declining over the last three years, and it’s clear the Braves don’t have enough time or opportunity to wait for him to get his groove back.
Without Bautista, Johan Camargo is expected to handle the hot corner on a daily basis. The 24-year-old infielder is working through his sophomore season at the major league level and entered Sunday’s game batting .226/.368/.403 with six extra bases and a .772 OPS in 76 PA. General manager Alex Anthopoulos acknowledged that top infield prospect Austin Riley could also get a shot at playing third base sometime in 2018, though the club has no current plans to promote him from Triple-A at the moment.