8/24/2014 7:26 P.M. ET
Roenicke: Braun's struggles due to high chase rate
By Caitlin Swieca / MLB.com
MILWAUKEE -- Thanks to a .221/.268/.377 slash line through the first 19 games of August, Ryan Braun entered Sunday with a .275 batting average. For Braun, that number is notable. He's only finished two seasons in his career with an average below .300, finishing at .285 in 2008 and .298 in his suspension-shortened 2013.
While Braun has admitted to still being bothered by a lingering nerve issue in his right hand, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said Braun's recent struggles have been more due to a lack of selectivity at the plate.
"It's still there, but physically, I think he's OK. He just continues to swing at bad pitches," Roenicke said. "They're pitching him in more, and he's chasing it more inside."
According to FanGraphs.com's plate discipline data, Braun has swung at 40.7 percent of pitches outside the strike zone this season, easily the highest rate of his career and far above his lifetime average of 33.3 percent.
While Roenicke acknowledged that Braun's not the only Brewer with an abnormally high chase rate, he conceded that the issue is particularly concerning with Braun, one of the team's best hitters.
He pointed to Braun's at-bat in the fourth inning of Saturday's 10-2 loss to the Pirates as a prime example. He came to the plate with the bases loaded and only one out, but Pirates righty Edinson Volquez jammed Braun inside with a 95-mph pitch, and Braun popped out weakly to the second baseman.
The Brewers didn't score after Aramis Ramirez struck out in the next at-bat, and the missed opportunity created a momentum swing in the game.
Garza shows progress in bullpen session
MILWAUKEE -- The injured Matt Garza took a big step toward returning to the Brewers as he threw his first bullpen session Sunday since being placed on the disabled list with a strained left oblique on Aug. 5.
Though it was a lighter session than normal, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke was encouraged with the results.
"It went really well," said Roenicke. "He threw all his pitches and didn't feel anything, so that's really good. He's going to go harder Tuesday, and we've talked about what the next step is from there."
Roenicke has suggested that the next step would likely be a Minor League rehab assignment, and he confirmed Sunday that Garza would not be able to join the Major League club for at least five days after that Tuesday bullpen session.
The team has been targeting an early September return, and the timeline presented Sunday made that sound realistic.
When Garza returns, the Brewers may have a tough decision to make about who will leave the rotation. Roenicke has said that Garza will definitely be one of the five pitchers. His replacement, Mike Fiers, has been stellar in his first four starts this season, allowing 10 total hits through 28 innings.
Roenicke did not commit when asked whether Fiers would stay in the rotation once Garza returns.
"I don't know. Hey, he's pitching great. That's all we can say for now," Roenicke said. "Hopefully, he does it again his next outing, and then we'll figure it out."
Brewers mum on plan for Wang, September callups
MILWAUKEE -- A night after Brewers reliever Wei-Chung Wang was transferred from Class A Wisconsin to Class A Advanced Brevard County on his Minor League rehab assignment, Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke wasn't ready to publicly commit to a plan for the rest of the left-hander's season.
Wang, a Rule 5 Draft pick, was with Milwaukee from Opening Day until he was placed on the disabled list July 11 with left shoulder tightness. Because of his inexperience, Wang appeared only 13 times during the Brewers' first 93 games and compiled an 11.12 ERA.
Wang has transitioned back to a starting role during the rehab stint, most recently pitching 6 1/3 innings and allowing one run on three hits for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers on Friday. With rosters expanding in September, Wang could rejoin the team without necessitating a corresponding roster move, but Roenicke wouldn't say whether the team was planning to recall him or shut him down for the season.
Similarly, he was mum on who else the team might call up for the September playoff push.
"I don't know if it's necessarily a secret, it's just we haven't talked about what we're doing exactly to make it public," Roenicke said. "We know who we're going to probably bring up, but I'd rather not say."
He did note that he didn't want to bring up players who would just ride the bench.
"It needs to be a reason why we're bringing guys up," Roenicke said.
Caitlin Swieca is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.