MINNEAPOLIS -- The Brewers entered the back half of their home-and-home series with the Twins on Wednesday slightly banged up and a bit worn out. The bullpen had pitched 23 innings over the past four days, and Tuesday night's 14-inning marathon pushed the team's arrival in Minneapolis back to 2:30 a.m.
At least manager Ron Roenicke has one extra tool at his disposal to give a couple of players some relief the next two days. Two games in an American League park means two chances to use the designated hitter and keep a weary slugger off his feet for nine innings.
Aramis Ramirez got Wednesday night off from his usual third-base duties, allowing him to rest his balky knee, but his bat stayed in the cleanup spot thanks to the DH rule. It is a luxury that Roenicke said was often overrated for National League teams, which do not usually carry a good-hit, no-field type of player on their rosters. But this week, with circumstances conspiring against the Brewers, it was timely.
"Usually for me, it probably hurts the National League team going to American League parks," Roenicke said. "But for us, because of the necessity of where we are with our injuries, it probably helps us."
Ryan Braun would be another likely candidate for a night of relative leisure in the DH spot, having sat out almost all of Monday's game with a nagging injury to his right thumb. Braun started Wednesday's game in left field, though when it is time to fill out Thursday's lineup card, Roenicke indicated his decision could be dictated by who was more banged up.
"I think right now [Ramirez] probably needs it more," Roenicke said, "but that could change."
Even though Braun's injury is the type that affects a player's swing, Roenicke said throwing also aggravates the thumb, so a night away from his defensive duties could help speed Braun's recovery.
"There's a little improvement there, but that can go day to day," Roenicke said. "And hopefully it won't come to the point where we need to take time off. As long as we're heading in the right direction, he's getting better."
As for that beleaguered bullpen, the Brewers were hoping for a long outing from Wednesday starter Marco Estrada. Roenicke also said using Mike Fiers for three innings Tuesday would not affect his scheduled start Saturday at Philadelphia.
"He says he feels good today, so I guess it would be like having a little longer bullpen session than normal," Roenicke said. "We were talking about maybe pitching him an inning today if [Tuesday's game] hadn't happened and we needed an inning today, so we should be fine."
Roenicke: Segura even better than stats show
MINNEAPOLIS -- He leads the National League in hitting, fresh off a six-hit performance Tuesday against the Twins. He continues to make flashy, jaw-dropping plays in the field. And -- this is what really surprises manager Ron Roenicke -- Jean Segura keeps doing it, night in and night out.
"He surprises me in the fact that he's been so consistent for this length of time," Roenicke said before Wednesday's game at Target Field. "I think he's got it in him to do those types of things, but to be as consistent as he's been offensively, for a young guy, that's really good. We're not facing easy pitchers -- we've faced some really tough ones, and it doesn't seem to slow him down any."
Segura's 6-for-7 night boosted his batting average to .365, trailing only Detroit's Miguel Cabrera among Major League hitters. It also opened some eyes in the opposing dugout, where the Twins were getting their first look at the Brewers' rookie shortstop.
"Oh my, he hits everything you throw up there," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He's got one of the shortest, most compact swings you'll ever see. He seems to be on everything.''
Only two Major League shortstops -- Colorado's Troy Tulowitzki and Baltimore's J.J. Hardy with 10 -- had hit more than Segura's eight home runs through Tuesday, while his .569 slugging percentage was 10th-best in the Major Leagues and trailed only Tulowitzki at his position.
That is pretty good company for a player who started the season with 151 Major League at-bats. Roenicke initially responded to a question about his shortstop's All-Star credentials evasively, but he made it clear that Segura's offensive game was only part of what made him special.
"Unfortunately, the way we've been playing, my focus hasn't been too much on other teams and how their players are doing, so I really have no idea what's going on with other shortstops in the league," Roenicke said. "But it's hard to imagine somebody playing better than he is. ... The defensive part, which you can't see except for errors, he's unbelievable. The range he has, the plays he's made that I know most shortstops can't make are numerous."
Any time a player as young as Segura -- who turned 23 during Spring Training -- finds himself atop the league in hitting, there is concern about that player getting a bit overwhelmed, but Roenicke lauded the veteran leadership in his clubhouse for keeping Segura grounded.
"I think the players are handling that pretty well; they're keeping him in his place," Roenicke said. "He's got Aramis [Ramirez] right beside him all the time, and Aramis really keeps him in his place and keeps him focused on what he needs to do. So when you have a player like that who can do it, the coaching staff just continues to talk to him about the little things to try to get him better."
Better? Hard to imagine that is even possible, but players with Segura's skills and drive do not come around often.
Segura "is not satisfied with just doing things OK," Roenicke said, "he wants to get better. He wants us to tell him when he's doing something wrong that he needs to work on. I think that our part is to just direct him in that way."
Braun chips in to ensure fans get ticket deal
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Brewers have struggled in May, but Ryan Braun thinks there is no reason the fans should pay for it.
The team announced Wednesday that Braun would fill the gap in the "Brewers Win, You Win" promotion that promised fans attending the June 3-5 series against Oakland $1 off a Terrace Box ticket for each Brewers victory in May.
After Wednesday's loss to the Twins, the Brewers are 5-21 in May, putting a serious crimp on potential savings for Brewers fans. Enter Braun, who will subsidize the program to ensure that fans can purchase a limited number of Terrace Box tickets (regularly $24) and Loge Bleacher seats (regularly $23) for just $8 -- matching his uniform number.
Braun's contribution will bridge the gap for up to 4,000 tickets for each game in the series. Tickets for this promotion will go on sale Friday at 9 a.m. at the Brewers' box office and via phone and online ordering.
"We recognize that this has been a tough month for all of us; not just the players but also the fans," Braun said in a press release. "The one constant has been the support of the community, and every one of us on the field has tremendous respect for the support we receive from the fans. On behalf of all of us on the field, we want to thank the fans and let them know that we really appreciate everyone being behind us during this rough stretch."
Patrick Donnelly is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.