Aramis placed on DL; Braun day to day with stiff neck
Brewers call up versatile rookie Prince to bolster roster depth
MILWAUKEE -- Ill-timed injuries meant the Brewers played without their two best hitters Saturday, when left fielder Ryan Braun remained sidelined by a stiff neck and third baseman Aramis Ramirez was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained left knee.
An MRI scan confirmed the sprain for Ramirez, who missed two weeks in Spring Training with the same injury. To fill his spot on the roster, the Brewers promoted super-utility man Josh Prince from Triple-A Nashville.
"It could have been worse," said Ramirez, who was actually moving around the clubhouse quite well. "Last night, I didn't feel good. There's never a good time for injuries, but at least it's not that serious, I guess."
Ramirez was injured sliding into second base on Friday night, a scenario nearly identical to March 2, when he first hurt the knee against the Angels. Ramirez was on crutches the next morning, but two weeks later he was healthy enough to play.
Even if he heals faster this time, the Brewers needed reinforcements. They began the season with a four-man bench, which was down to two after losing Braun and Ramirez.
"They have to [make a move]," Ramirez said. "Last time it took me two weeks. This gives me the full 15 days to recover. You never know how long it's going to take, how it's going to respond, because you can't do anything to it. You can't shoot cortisone in it or anything like that. You just have to let it heal. Hopefully, I just need 15 days."
The Brewers expect to have Braun back much sooner, though his neck remained completely locked up on Saturday afternoon. He first felt stiffness during a Friday afternoon workout, and the condition worsened dramatically during his second round of batting practice.
"It's not any better today than it was yesterday," Braun said. "All I can do is wait."
"This is literally day to day," Ash said. "It's not the cliche day to day. It's literally day to day. … Not enough improvement today, but they'll continue to treat it. Worst-case scenario -- I asked -- is probably five days. Hopefully, it's not that."
Prince provides versatility in first big-league callup
MILWAUKEE -- Josh Prince was the Triple-A Nashville Sounds' starting center fielder on Opening Day and the starting shortstop on Day 2. The Brewers envisioned him developing into a super-utility player, a la the Dodgers' Jerry Hairston Jr.
That project will have to continue in the Major Leagues, because on Day 3, Prince was in Milwaukee.
The Brewers promoted the 25-year-old on Saturday to replace third baseman Aramis Ramirez, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained left knee.
"With 'Ramie' out and uncertainly on [left fielder Ryan Braun, sidelined by a stiff neck], we needed somebody who could cover you both ways," assistant general manager Gord Ash said.
Prince fit that bill. He was originally a shortstop but was moved last season to the Double-A Huntsville outfield. A scorching-hot Arizona Fall League (Prince batted .404 with 14 RBIs and 10 stolen bases in 25 games) earned him a spot on Milwaukee's 40-man roster.
When he was optioned to Nashville in March, the Brewers talked to Prince about playing all over -- second base, third base, shortstop and all three outfield positions.
"It's being in the right place at the right time," Prince said of his unexpected promotion. "I'm a very religious guy, so I believe everything happens for a reason."
He welcomed the comparison to Hairston, who played a big role in the Brewers' 2011 postseason run and has played for nine different teams in parts of 16 Major League seasons.
"He definitely has come up. He's a guy who has done it for 15, 16 years, and has done a great job at it," Prince said. "Being able to play the infield and play the outfield, especially in the National League, it's pretty valuable."
A year ago, Prince was not considered a big-time prospect. On Saturday, at Miller Park for the first time since a pre-Draft workout in 2009, he was a Major Leaguer for the first time.
"I'm still pretty speechless," he said. "I'm trying to stay even-keeled, not try to get too many ups or too many downs. Just enjoy the moment."
• With Ramirez sidelined, Alex Gonzalez made his first career start at third base in his 1,505th Major League start in the field. Yuniesky Betancourt made his first start at first base in his 935th start in the field. Both players are natural shortstops.
Why Gonzalez at third and Betancourt at first, and not vice versa?
"I was talking to them both last night, and this seemed like what they wanted to do," Roenicke said.
• Prince's presence gives the Brewers time to evaluate their coverage at first base. With Corey Hart out until May, Gonzalez, Betancourt and backup catcher Martin Maldonado are the options at the moment, and Ash said that Taylor Green, on the 15-day disabled list with a hip injury, was hoping to play in extended spring games by the end of the week. The Brewers are also looking at options outside the organization, Roenicke said.
• Official scorer Tim O'Driscoll amended a ruling from Friday night's 3-1 Brewers loss, changing Michael Gonzalez's two-run wild pitch in the seventh inning to a passed ball. That made only one of the runs earned against Burke Badenhop and lowered Badenhop's ERA from 7.71 to 3.86.
• In a pregame ceremony Saturday, Braun was presented with his 2012 Silver Slugger Award and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum's Josh Gibson Legacy Award, which is presented annually to each league's home run champion. Braun led the National League last season with 41 home runs. The Silver Slugger Award was Braun's fifth -- a Brewers record.
• For the first time since Game 5 of the 2011 National League Championship Series, the Brewers played a meaningful game Saturday without Ben Rouse in the stands. The Fort Atkinson, Wis., native and leukemia survivor attended 167 consecutive regular-season and playoff games, including all 162 games in 2012 to raise awareness for "Be the Match," a national bone marrow donor registry.
Rouse chronicled his travels on an MLBlog and dubbed his trek "Brewers Mission 162." He attended the Brewers' first four games of 2013 before taking Saturday off.