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MRI alters Braun's diagnosis, but return date unclear

ST. LOUIS -- Ryan Braun emerged from an MRI scan on Sunday with a slightly different diagnosis for his right rib-cage injury. Instead of strained intercostals, Braun actually has a strained oblique, though his timetable to return to action remains nebulous.

"The main thing is we know exactly what it is now," Braun said, "and that means we know exactly how to treat it."

Is one diagnosis better than the other?

"I don't know if it makes a difference," said Brewers manager Ron Roenicke, who gets daily status updates from members of the team's medical staff. "Intercostals could take maybe a little longer to heal up than obliques. Intercostals -- I did mine way back when -- when you start talking about things between the ribs, it's a little harder to get the blood flow there. That's why they take longer to heal."

Braun has been getting twice-daily treatments, and walked around the clubhouse Monday wearing an "H-Wave" instrument, which electrically stimulates muscles to increase blood flow.

Roenicke mentioned a 3-5 day timetable for Braun on Sunday, but reiterated on Monday that it is notoriously difficult to predict recovery from rib-cage injuries. The Brewers were also without shortstop Jean Segura on Monday as he continued recovering from being struck in the face by Braun's bat on Saturday night.

"I'm totally guessing when I say those numbers, too," Roenicke said. "I ask the trainers what they think, but when you talk about the oblique muscle with Braun, it's really hard to guess how long that takes. Siggy's injury is a little bit different. When that swelling goes down, and he looked better today, if he looks better again tomorrow, hopefully he can take some BP [on Tuesday], and if he does, maybe he can see some action on Wednesday. Or maybe we have to go to Thursday."

What about Braun? Is there any chance he plays against the Cardinals?

"He was a lot better today," Roenicke said. "I didn't think he'd be able to, but sometimes, these things, you come in and they're a lot better. So if he's a lot better again tomorrow, it probably means he can start taking BP, and then we'll see where we are."

Even with backup catcher Martin Maldonado coming off his five-game suspension for Monday's series opener at Busch Stadium, the Brewers were shorthanded. Elian Herrera started in right field, with no true outfielder on the bench. Roenicke would use first baseman Mark Reynolds in a pinch.

Triple-A Nashville's Caleb Gindl is the only other outfielder on the 40-man roster. Another outfielder, Logan Schafer, is on the disabled list with a right hamstring strain, but began a rehabilitation assignment with Class A Brevard County on Monday and will be eligible to come off the DL for Saturday's game in Cincinnati.

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