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Brewers played above .500 without Braun

NEW YORK -- The Brewers posted a winning record in the wake of Ryan Braun's season-ending suspension (33-32 after Sunday's 3-2 loss to the Mets) but they will be a better team when he returns, manager Ron Roenicke said.

Barring injuries, the Brewers project a solid 2014 starting lineup that begins with right fielder Norichika Aoki, shortstop Jean Segura, Braun, third baseman Aramis Ramirez, catcher Jonathan Lucroy and center fielder Carlos Gomez. Segura and Gomez were All-Stars in 2013, and Lucroy has had his best season of run production with 82 RBIs.

"There's going to be some things that happen with him, but it's a good thing [to get Braun back], a real good thing," Roenicke said. "If we get him back, and we get Aramis back healthy, we know we're good 3-4 [in the batting order]. 'Luc' fits in there because he's been hitting third all year, basically, since Braun has been out.

"To have those guys we know who can drive in runs, who are going to have good years, it's important for that consistency of being able to score runs. Not just one here, then six, then shut out. So if our pitching pitches the way we think they can, we should be in every game."

Braun is signed through at least 2020, and Ramirez was stating the obvious when he said a successful resurgence for Braun would be "important for him, for the team, for the franchise, for everybody. We need Brauny. He is the best player in here in this clubhouse. You need your best player to be out there."

Will Braun still be the Brewers' best player?

"I don't think there's a question," Ramirez said. "If you can play, you'll play," Ramirez said. "Obviously he made a mistake. He's going to have to prove he's good without it, but I think he's a good player. If you have talent, you're going to be a good player."

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy.
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