MILWAUKEE -- One week into Ryan Braun's stay on the disabled list for a strained left calf, his timeline remained open-ended, and Brewers manager Craig Counsell remained open-minded to covering Braun's position with a combination of in-house options.Braun tested his calf for the first time Friday by running on an
MILWAUKEE -- One week into Ryan Braun's stay on the disabled list for a strained left calf, his timeline remained open-ended, and Brewers manager Craig Counsell remained open-minded to covering Braun's position with a combination of in-house options.
Braun tested his calf for the first time Friday by running on an anti-gravity treadmill, which speeds physical therapy by bearing part of a user's weight. Braun is eligible for reinstatement from the 10-day DL beginning Monday.
"All I really know is it's going to be longer than 10 days," Counsell said. "That's all I can tell you for sure."
Counsell has used a mix of Eric Thames, Eric Sogard and Nick Franklin in left field with Braun sidelined, as the Brewers have so far opted against a callup from a pool of outfield prospects at Triple-A Colorado Springs that includes top prospectLewis Brinson. Until now, that has been partly a matter of timing. But the schedule is about to push past the point at which teams have to worry about callups accruing enough service time to qualify for an extra high-salary season in arbitration.
So if the team determines Braun will remain sidelined significantly beyond the 10-day minimum, would the Brewers consider a more permanent solution for left field?
"What do you suggest?" Counsell said. "I mean, I'll tell you, Hernan Perez has been one of the best outfielders in the big leagues this year. So defensively, I don't know if we can do better than that. I know there's the notion that he doesn't play in the outfield regularly, but he's been an outstanding defensive outfielder this year. Defensively, I think we'd have a hard time doing better than Hernan.
"I think offensively, we've put a mix of guys in there. … Those guys are doing a pretty good job, so I'm very happy with where we're at."
From Braun hitting first hitting the DL on May 12 through Thursday's win over the Mets, Brewers left fielders were 21st of 30 Major League teams in both OPS (.624) and weighted runs created plus (64). But the team as a whole ranked eighth in the Majors with 98 runs scored while going 11-8.
Critical to Counsell's daily defensive alignment is Perez, who celebrated two years in the organization on Friday. The Brewers claimed him off waivers from the Tigers on June 2, 2015, in the early days of Counsell's tenure as manager and the waning days of Doug Melvin's run as general manager. Perez was a perfect pickup for a team that had just jumped into rebuilding -- a 24-year-old shortstop talented enough to make it to the Majors at 21, who had yet to fulfill that promise while playing a part-time role for Detroit.
Perez met the Brewers that night in St. Louis during the third inning of a game against the Cardinals, unsure about what the move would mean for his career. Two years later, he is an indispensable piece for a first-place team.
"I thought the National League might be good for me, because I play different positons and because they double-switch," Perez said. "I thought, 'Play hard every day and see what happens.'
"I didn't want to leave the big leagues. I wanted to stay."
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.