Brewers weathering injury bug
Braun sits as planned; Weeks sprains hand; Hardy has flu
PHOENIX -- On one hand, Monday's split-squad action was good for the Brewers, who need every Spring Training inning they can get to help sort out a spirited pitching competition.
But, with games against both the White Sox in Phoenix and against the Mariners in Peoria on Monday, manager Ned Yost was left scrambling for position players. Left fielder Ryan Braun sat, as expected, because of lingering stiffness in his right Achillies tendon. Not expected was that second baseman Rickie Weeks would be sidelined by a sprained right hand or that shortstop J.J. Hardy would be sent back home early Monday with a bout of the flu.
"I just have to get this split-squad out of the way," Yost said. "You just run out of players."
With the team's only off-day of March looming on Wednesday, Yost planned to rest all three players again on Tuesday and re-evaluate things on Thursday.
Braun has played just once since he was scratched from a game against the Mariners on March 12, and was a late scratch again Sunday. Braun believes a new pair of shoes may be to blame, a pair of Nike Shox metal cleats.
"I guess Nike has had problems with the Shox," said Braun, who had heard that NBA players had stopped wearing the shoe. "It makes sense, because they take so much pressure off your heel and put it on the front of your foot. I don't know if that had anything to do with it or not.
"It's my right Achilles, so it hurts when I try to push off my back leg [while] hitting or running. Better to get it taken care of now than have it lingering later. ... There's no reason to take a chance."
Yost said Weeks hyperextended his fingers sliding into second base during Sunday's win over Seattle, and by Monday morning, the top of Weeks' right hand was obviously swollen. He left Maryvale Baseball Park while the rest of the team took batting practice and was to undergo X-rays at a local hospital.
The tests apparently were negative, because word came before noon that Weeks was diagnosed with a sprain. A club spokesman said that Weeks would miss "a couple of days."
Weeks wears a wrist brace on that hand, which could have contributed to the injury. He underwent wrist surgery following the 2006 season and struggled throughout 2007 with pain related to scar tissue. But the latest setback is completely separate.
"I don't like staying out of anything, really," Weeks said. "But it is what it is. I think [the X-rays] are just a precautionary thing."
Weeks' continuing slump at the plate might be the more troublesome fact.
He is batting just .125 in Cactus League games with whopping strikeout numbers: 20 of them in 40 at-bats including two more on Sunday. Weeks has walked only three times and his on-base percentage has dipped to .255.
"My timing is way off right now," Weeks said. "My swing feels good, and I feel real good up there, but that could be my nemesis: I feel too good right now. I'm out in front of everything."
Weeks is also struggling in the field. He committed an error in both Saturday's and Sunday's games, and leads the Brewers with five errors this spring.
Said Yost of Weeks' camp so far: "It's not very pretty. He's working hard. He's just not having [success]. Rickie is like a race car engine, and every once in a while, the throttle gets stuck in high speed when the engine is revving. That's where Rickie is right now. Rickie needs to take a step back a little bit, and slow down a little bit."
Weeks stressed that he isn't worried.
"Until I get to March 31," he said, referring to Opening Day against the Cubs, "I'm good."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.