Braun doesn't start Tuesday for Crew
Back tightness limits left fielder to pinch-hitting duties
MILWAUKEE -- One night after leaving Monday's game with a reoccurrence of tightness in his back muscles, Ryan Braun was out of the Brewers' lineup, but neither player nor manager was concerned about a prolonged absence.
"I'm fine," Braun said before Tuesday's game against Houston. "In baseball, you get those nagging injuries. This feels like it's going to be one of those injuries. I just have to deal with it; I don't think it's going to magically disappear. Anything in that area, it's difficult to get a chance to completely heal, and it's easy to aggravate."
Braun said the tightness was not any worse than the same ailment that held him out for six games last week. The left fielder eased back into action, entering the game as a sub Saturday before starting Sunday and Monday. Brewers manager Ned Yost said Braun could have played Tuesday, as well.
"He lobbied to play," Yost said. "I told him we'd take one more day to see how it feels. It's not anything that's substantial or anything that's going to keep him out of the lineup for more than a day or so. Again, it's just something I don't want to linger on. It's not a strain. It's just tightness; it doesn't hurt to swing. I'll see how he does in [batting practice] today."
Barring a setback in batting practice, Yost said Braun would probably be a pinch-hitting candidate. The team has an off-day Thursday and might elect to rest Braun through the remainder of the series, especially with usual replacement Gabe Kapler (.304 batting average, seven homers) enjoying a solid season.
"I'd rather have Gabe Kapler at 100 percent than Brauny in there at 80," Yost said. "For me, it's not even an issue."
Second baseman Ray Durham was back in the lineup after collecting three hits and three RBIs on Monday. Rickie Weeks, who likely would have sat in favor of Durham against right-hander Brian Moehler anyway, was close to a full return from his sprained thumb sustained over the weekend.
"Rickie took ground balls and everything yesterday," Yost said. "Today, he's making the progression of starting on the tee, seeing how it feels. Then, he's going to do soft tossing and if he feels good, he'll come out and take BP. Rickie's close to being ready."
Weeks did take batting practice swings thereafter.
JR Radcliffe is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.