04/12/2013 10:25 PM ET
Braun confident in health going into St. Louis
By Steve Overbey / Special to MLB.com
ST. LOUIS -- Milwaukee outfielder Ryan Braun said he was "as close to 100 percent as possible," as the Brewers began a three-game series in St. Louis on Friday.
Braun missed the entire three-game set against Arizona last weekend with spasms in his neck. He played as a game-time decision on Monday and was also in the lineup Tuesday at Chicago, although he conceded that the injury was still bothersome.
The five-time All-Star has nine hits in 18 at-bats with one home run and six RBIs in five games. Braun said the unexpected three-day break helped the healing process.
"I think I'm fine," Braun said. "We're never at 100 percent, are we? But I'm close."
Braun went 3-for-4 on Monday against Chicago even though the pain was severe.
The injury occurred during batting practice on April 5.
"It came from out of nowhere," Braun said. "All of a sudden, I couldn't move my neck."
Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke says he appreciates Braun gutting it out, especially considering the Brewers' recent injury woes.
Braun, 29, took a five-game hitting streak into the series.
Gonzalez pulled after getting plunked by Miller
ST. LOUIS -- Milwaukee third baseman Alex Gonzalez was removed from Friday's game at St. Louis in the third inning after he was hit in the elbow by a pitch from Shelby Miller in the second. First baseman Yuniesky Betancourt shifted to replace Gonzalez at third and Blake Lalli took over at first.
Gonzalez has a bruised left hand and X-rays were negative, according to the Brewers.
Gonzalez, who is hitting .138, has appeared in all nine games for Milwaukee.
Betancourt gets start at first base
ST. LOUIS -- Yuniesky Betancourt started at first base for only the fourth time in his 10-year career on Friday. Betancourt, a middle infielder by trade, moved to first at the request of manager Ron Roenicke due to a knee injury to Corey Hart.
"As long as I'm in the lineup and can help my team, I don't care where I play," Betancourt said.
Betancourt has yet to make an error in 30 chances at first. He is taking extra grounders in practice on a daily basis.
"I keep working and keep trying to get better," Betancourt said. "I'm getting more comfortable, but I've still got a lot to work on."
Prior to this season, Betancourt had never appeared at first base. He is hitting .250 with one RBI.
"I think if you can play middle infield, you're going to be very good at first base," Roenicke said. "At first looks, he's really good there. He has range, he's got great hands."
Betancourt, who has also played third, says he enjoys the challenge of a new position.
"The more [positions] I can play, the more I can help this team," Betancourt said.
Aramis cautious in recovery from sprained knee
ST. LOUIS -- Milwaukee third baseman Aramis Ramirez remains on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained left knee suffered on April 5 while sliding into second base against Arizona. Ramirez missed two weeks of Spring Training with a similar injury.
Consequently, Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke says the team is taking a more cautious approach this time around.
"He's coming along fine, but we're not going to rush it," Roenicke said. "We want to make sure he is OK when he comes back.
"Whether it's 15 days or 20, I don't really know. We won't know that until it's closer to that date."
With Ramirez and Hart out, the Brewers have lost two corner infielders that accounted for 57 homers and 188 RBIs last season. The pair scored 183 runs and had 85 doubles with a combined average of .285.
"It's tough, but you've got to battle through things like that," Roenicke said.
Ramirez's injury has left a big hole in the cleanup spot in the order. Milwaukee batters are 1-for-18 in the No. 4 spot since the injury. They have struck out eight times with only one RBI.
Roenicke comments on Greinke incident
ST. LOUIS -- Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke would not take sides in the controversy between former Brewers pitcher Zack Greinke and San Diego slugger Carlos Quentin. Greinke, who compiled a 25-9 record in Milwaukee from 2011-12, hit Quentin with a pitch on Thursday night. Quentin charged the mound and Greinke sustained a separated left collarbone in the melee.
Roenicke was quick to point out that Greinke doesn't not have the reputation as a headhunter.
"I don't know Zack to hit people on purpose," Roenicke said. "Sometimes, with a hitter like [Quentin], you've got to pitch him [inside]."
• Hot-hitting shortstop Jean Segura says he is fully healed after suffering a bruised thigh and a sore ankle on Sunday.
"I feel pretty good," Segura said. "The days off helped."
Segura carried a league-leading .458 average into Friday's contest in St. Louis.
• The Brewers went approximately 69 hours without playing due to a weather postponement in Chicago on Wednesday and a scheduled day off Thursday.
• The top three hitters in the Milwaukee order have 16 of the team's 31 RBIs heading into Friday's contest in St. Louis.
• Roenicke, who was plagued by back problems earlier in the week, said he felt fine before the game. Roenicke went to a Chicago-area hospital early Tuesday morning after his back locked up. He returned to the team hotel by mid-morning and did not miss the contest.
Steve Overbey is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.