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Braun sits with 'pretty serious' back issue

Brewers star expects to play through ailment rest of season

MILWAUKEE -- Ryan Braun was scratched from Wednesday's starting lineup with what the Brewers called low back tightness, an innocuous label for a "pretty serious" ailment that might have to be addressed after the season.

Braun declined to say much about his prognosis other than that he is day to day, and manager Craig Counsell said he anticipates writing Braun's name in the lineup for Thursday's series finale against the Cardinals. But Braun indicated he had been managing back discomfort for some time now, and expects to do so through the end of the season. After that, the relevant parties will assess options.

"I think it's something that's kind of built up over time," said Braun, who was scratched before batting practice. "I've had some challenging days lately. It was bothering me before [Tuesday's] game. I don't think it will get 'better-better' for a while. Just kind of grind through it. … I don't really want to get into it too much. There's some stuff going on."

"Stuff" besides the balky back?

"No, it's just my back," Braun said, "but it's pretty serious."

That revelation was surprising, considering Braun's recent results. He entered Wednesday with a .355/.425/.567 slash line since the beginning of August, including .408/.482/.551 in September. His 1.033 OPS this month was seventh-best in the National League.

"I think I've just got my bat path back to a place where it's really good," said Braun, whose bat path was compromised in previous seasons by a right thumb injury. "Back to where I want it to be, where it's repeatable and I give myself a lot of room for error and hitting a lot of balls in the air. I still feel like I've hit a lot better than the numbers would indicate, but overall my swing has been pretty good."

Amid a bad season for the Brewers, Braun has been a bright spot. He entered Wednesday batting .291 with 25 home runs and 84 RBIs, ranking ninth among NL players in slugging percentage (.509) and OPS (.870).

"He's had an outstanding season, he really has," Counsell said. "He's been productive, he's been consistent. He's been a good all-around player. He's been good in the clubhouse. He's been a very, very good player. An All-Star. He's played like an All-Star."

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast.
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