08/18/2008 12:10 PM ET
Ryan Braun: Back in the swing of things
Brewers standout back on the field after injury
After missing six straight games last week while recovering from a strain in the back of my rib cage, I couldn't wait to get back on the field this past weekend for several reasons: We're in a playoff race, I'm from California, and I was getting really bored.
I suffered the injury during my first at-bat against the Nationals on August 9. My back was sort of tight all that day, but I took an awkward swing on a big curveball, and I felt it lock up on me. I've never had an injury like that before, so I didn't know what it was. I was hoping it would just loosen up, but it didn't.
The official terminology that was used for the injury was a strained intercostal. It was in the oblique rib cage area. I feel like you hear about the injury all the time, but maybe you don't get the technical name for it. It wasn't something I was familiar with by name, but the injury itself is somewhat common in baseball.
Since the injury, I'd had a lot of treatment, and slowly, it got better so I could return as a pinch-hitter on Saturday and start on Sunday. Rehab is no fun.
The pain was intense at first. It was really uncomfortable. Doing simple things like laughing, sneezing and coughing hurt. It was nice to get past that part, but you still have to be careful, because it's the type of injury that can easily be reaggravated.
No injury comes at a good time, of course, but this one came while we were on a West Coast trip, and I'm from Los Angeles. We had games in San Diego and L.A., and I would have been pretty disappointed if I hadn't played. It was tough to be back home and be hurt.
I didn't get a chance to play in L.A. last year either, so I didn't want to miss the opportunity to play at home where I had a ton of family and friends sitting in the left-field pavilion. I missed all the Padres games and the first Dodgers game.
I started to feel better toward the end of the week. Sometimes the best thing for an injury like this is simply rest. Heat, steam, ice and massage help some, but I had to let it run its course. Finally, I was able to pinch hit on Saturday, and I got back in the lineup on Sunday.
Sitting and watching the team when you're hurt feels a little different than when you don't start a game. It's more relaxing because you know you aren't going to play. You get more of a mental break from the game.
It was also fun to just sit back and watch our team play. It makes me realize just how good our starting pitching is. I usually play behind them in the field, but the perspective from the bench just reinforces how impressive our guys are. It's fun to sit back and watch C.C. Sabathia and Ben Sheets and the rest of the guys make some of the opposing hitters look silly.
When I sit, I also get to see what the coaches and manager do more. It's a learning opportunity. I haven't given any thought to coaching some day because it's so far down the road. That's something that can wait for another 15 to 20 years.
Now that I'm past the injury, I need to focus on regaining my rhythm and timing at the plate so I don't feel like it's the first day of Spring Training all over again.
Ryan Braun, who won the 2007 Players Choice Award for Outstanding Rookie in the National League, leads the Brewers in home runs (31) and RBIs (86) so far this season. The 24-year-old slugger, an outfielder who played collegiately at the University of Miami, hit .366 and participated in his first All-Star Game in July.