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Ramirez rests as he recovers from knee injury

MILWAUKEE -- Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez was out of the lineup on Sunday for what manager Ron Roenicke called a scheduled off-day to rest the slugger's ailing left knee.

Ramirez sprained his left knee in early April and missed 23 games while on the disabled list. Although he had three hits and climbed to one knock away from 2,000 for his career on Saturday, Ramirez has been playing through the lingering injury.

"He's not having issues, [but] it's still there," Roenicke said. "He's getting a little frustrated with it. He's squaring up some more balls lately, but the hitting part is getting frustrating for him."

Roenicke gave Jeff Bianchi the start at third base against Braves' left-hander Paul Maholm on Sunday. Ramirez will get two days rest with Monday's off-day, before the team plays 20 straight games heading into the All-Star break beginning Tuesday.

"Hopefully with today and a day off tomorrow, we can start gaining some ground and then figure out how we get through these 20 straight games," Roenicke said. "When you're playing pretty much every day, it's really hard to get injuries to get better. Every time he tweaks it, it sets him back."

Ramirez is hitting .274 this year with just four home runs and 21 RBIs in 42 games. The slugger has just one home run in his last 211 plate appearances since hitting two homers against the Cardinals on May 17.

"But he's also there because he's a presence," Roenicke said. "When you're facing him with people on base, I don't care what kind of numbers he's showing. He just knows how to drive in runs. I think that's the frustrating part lately, he's not driving them in at the pace that he's used to."

Ramirez is not the only power hitter missing from the Brewers' lineup with Ryan Braun on the disabled list with a right hand injury and Corey Hart yet to play this year with a right knee injury.

"When you lose your three, four, five hitters, pretty tough to be consistent," said Roenicke.

Kevin Massoth is an associate reporter for
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