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04/15/08 8:02 PM EST
Braun gets unwanted day off
Slumping slugger left out of lineup in opener vs. Cards
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
ST. LOUIS -- With just 12 games ticked off the schedule and the Brewers coming off an off-day, when Ryan Braun was not in the lineup Tuesday you had to wonder whether the left fielder was nursing some sort of injury. Braun said he wondered the same thing. "I don't need an off-day. I don't want an off-day," Braun said. "I would much rather be playing. I don't ever want to sit. Obviously, there going to be times when you need an off-day when you're tired or you're hurt, but I'm perfectly healthy. "I'm just an employee. Seriously. I don't make those decisions." But Brewers manager Ned Yost does, and the skipper decided that the 24-year-old Braun needed what he called a day to "relax." Braun hit a key, two-run single in Sunday's win over the Mets, but that was one of just three hits in his past 25 at-bats. Braun entered the Brewers' series at Busch Stadium batting .226 with 11 strikeouts and no walks in 53 at-bats. "He got a day off [Monday, with the team], and it's nice to back it up," Yost said. "He's been going hard. It's not even rest. It's just, 'relax.' Right now, what he's doing is stepping in the [batter's] box and wanting to get into a real big hurry. He's too good a hitter for that to happen. He needs to stay patient. He needs to stay a little more disciplined and let the at-bat come to him. ... I've still not seen pitchers get him out on a regular basis." In other words, Braun has been getting himself out by fishing at pitches out of the hitting zone. "Yes, all players go through this," Yost said. "The difference being that a player of his caliber doesn't have to go through it for as long. He needs to take a step back." Joe Dillon made his first start of the season in Braun's place, batting third and playing left field.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.