MRI on Braun's back shows no damage
**Slugger's absence paves way for Hall's first start in left**
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
05/04/09 7:00 PM ET
PITTSBURGH -- Whatever is causing the tightness that has migrated to Ryan Braun's upper back, it didn't show up on an MRI scan Monday.
A Brewers spokesperson announced about three hours before the start of a two-game series at PNC Park that Braun had remained back in Milwaukee for further tests on his ailing back. An MRI scan, Braun's second in less than six weeks, showed no structural damage.
Brewers head physician William Raasch read the results.
"[Raasch] felt the MRI was of superior quality, and he was pretty confident that they didn't miss anything," Brewers assistant general manager Gord Ash said. "No structural issues, no tearing, no micro-tearing and [Raasch] doesn't suspect this should be long-term at all. Obviously, all of that is going to depend on how quickly Ryan feels better."
So far, Braun has not felt better. He has been playing with discomfort since last August, when the ailment was originally diagnosed as a strain to the small muscles between the ribs in his lower back.
Braun reported to Spring Training with a clean bill of health, but suffered a relapse while playing for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic. When that pain continued upon his return to the Brewers, the team ordered up the initial MRI.
Now the sensation has moved to Braun's upper back. He is convinced the ailments are related, and Ash couldn't rule that out. It's also unknown whether Braun's more recent trouble is related to being hit between the shoulder blades by right-hander Jeff Karstens during a game against the Pirates last week at Miller Park. Since that plunking, Braun is 2-for-14 with six strikeouts. He hasn't hit a ball out of the infield since the sixth inning on Wednesday.
Sending Braun for a second MRI served "a two-fold purpose," Ash said, "to find out his status for his own well-being and [whether] he should do anything different from a treatment point of view, and it obviously gives us an idea of what we need to do, roster-wise.
"What we've come to after this test is that we're best to sit and wait, and we'll re-evaluate later on."
Third baseman Bill Hall was the surprise starter in left field on Monday and Casey McGehee filled in for Hall at third. Both of the Brewers' backup outfielders hit left-handed, and manager Ken Macha wanted to stack his lineup with right-handers against Pirates starter Paul Maholm.
Braun's flight was scheduled to get him back to Pittsburgh at about 5 p.m. CT, an hour before the first pitch. Macha said he hopes to have him back in the lineup on Tuesday, and he wondered if the clean MRI scan might help.
"We just want to make sure he's got a clear mind," Macha said, "and that we have a clear mind about what's going on. And everything is fine."
Could the MRI provide the assurance Braun was looking for? Ash had not spoken with Braun since the tests, but he was hopeful.
"I think any time the diagnostic test shows you there is nothing structurally wrong, it gives you peace of mind," Ash said. "One of his concerns is that he didn't want to risk making something worse, and I think it's clear that there isn't something to make worse."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
This is excellent news for the Brewers and Ryan Braun. We really need him to come back soon especially with Billy Hall getting hurt early in tonight's game and Brad Nelson not swinging the bat well. Chris Duffy is a pretty dependable replacement though, but obviously doesn't have Braun's hitting talents.
Hey guys, Cubs fan here and I'm gonna ask a harmless question...
Braun is on pace for 100 walks this year when he always looked like a guy who would cap at about 50-60... is it because Fielder is struggling behind him or is he really laying off borderline pitches and just improving?