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Braun dealing with calf injury, may return Friday

Brewers optimistic left fielder will be back in action for first game after All-Star break
MLB.com @AdamMcCalvy

NEW YORK -- Ryan Braun sat out the Brewers' first-half finale Sunday with a recurrence of the left calf injury that sidelined him for much of May and June. But club officials believe he will be back in action Friday in the first game after the All-Star break.

How often Braun is available beyond that, however, is one of the questions facing Milwaukee as it tries to hold on to first place in the National League Central.

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NEW YORK -- Ryan Braun sat out the Brewers' first-half finale Sunday with a recurrence of the left calf injury that sidelined him for much of May and June. But club officials believe he will be back in action Friday in the first game after the All-Star break.

How often Braun is available beyond that, however, is one of the questions facing Milwaukee as it tries to hold on to first place in the National League Central.

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"I'm pretty optimistic that when we're starting on Friday, he'll be in there," manager Craig Counsell said. "We haven't played with Ryan a bunch this year. I'm planning on it almost the same going forward -- not that he's not going to be in there, but that we're going to have to be cautious with it.

"He's had a calf injury this year that we're going to have to be careful with. It is probably going to limit his playing time. It's just the reality of the season. We've produced offensively without him. It's just how we're going to have to approach the [rest of] the season. If we get more than we expect, it's a bonus."

Braun started hot, with a .309/.391/.630 slash line through April 28, right about the time he first strained his left calf. He has been limited to 16 games since the start of May while producing a .214/.290/.483 slash line and enduring two stints on the 10-day disabled list.

Since returning from the second of those DL assignments June 27, Braun had been productive again. He was 10-for-40 with five doubles, three home runs and a .918 OPS before Saturday's flare-up.

Video: MIL@CIN: Braun hits a ground-rule double in the 3rd

Brewers push Draft spending to limit
Friday's deadline to sign 2017 MLB Draft picks offered a reminder that baseball is a mathematician's game. The Brewers signed each of their top 13 selections and 29 of 41 picks overall while exceeding their spending pool by 4.98 percent.

At 5 percent, the team would have had to surrender its first-round Draft pick next year. Milwaukee spent a total of $12,218,900 to sign this year's Draft class, according to MLB.com's Jim Callis, including $10,968,500 against the pool -- coming within $1,585 of that magic threshold.

2017 Draft: Signing and Bonus Tracker | Brewers' 2017 Draft picks

"As you might imagine, there were plenty of people double-checking that figure to make sure we're doing our accounting appropriately," general manager David Stearns said with a laugh.

If a team exceeds its pool by less than 5 percent, it pays a 75 percent tax on the overage, but it does not surrender future picks.

Stearns credited amateur scouting director Tod Johnson and vice president of scouting Ray Montgomery for devising a unique approach this year. From Rounds 11-19, the Brewers drafted nine consecutive high school seniors with college commitments, then spent ensuing weeks trying to entice as many as possible away from those scholarships with above-slot bonuses.

It worked in three notable cases: Right-hander Max Lazar (11th round, $475,000), outfielder Je'Von Ward (12th round, $475,000) and right-hander Justin Bullock (16th round, $295,000). The Crew also signed 17th-round pick outfielder LG Castillo, but his bonus was not large enough to count against the pool.

Video: Draft 2017: MLB.com recaps the Brewers Draft picks

"Going through the process, we had a comprehensive approach and plan on how we were going to bring those guys in, understanding we weren't going to be able to sign all of them, but prioritizing specific players who we thought were important," Stearns said. "We got it done, and I am pleased with that."

Last call
Zach Davies, Jimmy Nelson and Matt Garza will start the first three games after the All-Star break. Counsell did not specify beyond that, which made sense later in the day when the Brewers placed Junior Guerra on the 10-day disabled list, retroactive to Saturday, with a bruised right shin. He was hit by a comebacker in Friday's start against the Yankees.

Because of the All-Star break, Guerra might not have to miss a turn in the rotation, if he is assigned the fifth game out of the break.

Wily Peralta (right calf) will make at least two more relief appearances on his rehab assignment after a poor outing at Triple-A Colorado Springs on Saturday. Peralta surrendered six runs (five earned) on four hits and two walks while recording one out.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Milwaukee Brewers, Ryan Braun