Braun dealing with minor lower back stiffness

March 24th, 2016

PHOENIX -- A bout of stiffness on Thursday dashed Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun's hopes of getting through Spring Training without a flare-up of his surgically repaired back.

Braun was a late scratch from the Brewers' 9-2 win over the Royals and will remain sidelined on Friday with what manager Craig Counsell characterized as minor stiffness in Braun's lower back. Braun had a procedure in October to repair a bulging disc and has played in only four Cactus League games.

"I don't think it's a red flag," Counsell said. "I'm not concerned. We're just going to be overly cautious at this point. I anticipate him being in there on Saturday."

The Brewers are slated to host the D-backs on Saturday at Maryvale Baseball Park.

Starting up again

Considering how well he was pitching, the last thing bullpen candidate Sean Nolin wanted to do was inform the Brewers' medical staff that his elbow was tight. So he stretched and he long tossed, hoping the discomfort would abate.

Eventually, he had to be smart.

"I figured, say something before it was too late," Nolin said. "Overall, just tightness. Maybe a little inflammation. It's feeling a lot better. I think I'm going to try to throw again tomorrow. I don't see it being too huge."

The timing of Nolin's setback means he won't be ready for the Opening Day bullpen. He's one of three players, with pitcher Yhonathan Barrios and outfielder Rymer Liriano, ticketed for the Opening Day disabled list.

Last call

• After dealing with a sore shoulder for much of the month, Rule 5 Draft pick Zack Jones made his Cactus League debut on Thursday by pitching the ninth inning. He surrendered a leadoff home run, then a single, but he recovered with a double play and a strikeout to seal Milwaukee's win. The Brewers have the next week to decide whether to keep Jones for the bullpen, or offer him back to the Twins.

"He was getting his feet wet a little bit, his first time out," Counsell said. "I think he's got a good arm, and that's what attracted us to him."

• Former Brewers second baseman Jim Gantner began his annual camp visit on Thursday. The Wisconsin native and fan favorite will be in uniform for several days.

• Ever the diplomat, Notre Dame alum and longtime Wisconsin resident Counsell found the perfect response on Thursday to a question about his rooting interest in Friday's Sweet Sixteen matchup between the Fighting Irish and the Badgers.

"It's a positive result either way," Counsell said. "How's that for a positive answer?"