03/16/09 12:34 AM ET
Braun leaves with sore right side
Left fielder says he is fine and that exit was precautionary move
By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com
Ryan Braun of the Brewers was lifted in the eighth inning on Sunday night with a sore right side.
Braun went 2-for-4 with a run scored in Team USA's 9-3 win over The Netherlands. For the Classic, he is batting .429.
Shortly after the game, Braun sounded as if he will be fine. Team USA is off on Monday before playing the loser of Puerto Rico-Venezuela on Tuesday.
"I'm fine," the All-Star left fielder said. "It's precautionary more than anything else. Just tightened up on me a little bit. Don't want to take any chances. I'll be back."
Team USA is starting to get riddled by ailments.
In the past two days, Team USA has lost Chipper Jones (right oblique strain) and Dustin Pedroia (left oblique strain) to injury.
Catcher Brian McCann delivered an RBI pinch-hit double in place of Braun, and he remained in left field for the ninth inning.
Manager Davey Johnson said he considered using pitcher Ted Lilly in left field.
"With the injuries we were looking at, I figured I could probably run Lilly out there for defense," Johnson said. "But I wouldn't run him out there to hit. So the healthiest probably was McCann. I said, 'Can you play left field?' He said, 'Boy, I'd love to.' "
McCann made the best of his one-inning stint in left.
"The coach obviously wanted to see my athleticism in the outfield," the Braves catcher said. "I would like to play a full game in the outfield. When I ran by [shortstop] Jimmy Rollins, I told him that I was using his glove. He just smiled and laughed."
Braun will benefit by a day off.
He said he felt some tightness in his third at-bat, which was a single. The fourth at-bat, a strikeout, felt worse and he left the game before he hit again.
"Guys can obviously get hurt in Spring Training as well," Braun said when asked of the risk of being hurt in the Classic. "It's a little bit different when you are out here playing meaningful games. Guys typically at this time of year play three or four innings instead of nine innings.
"But everybody recognizes what we are getting ourselves into and I don't think anybody would trade this experience for anything else."
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.