Brewers’ Braun misses third consecutive game

MILWAUKEE — Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun’s neck was feeling better Sunday, but he wasn’t in the lineup against Arizona.

The five-time All-Star was scratched from Friday’s lineup after suffering a neck strain during batting practice and hasn’t played since.

“As soon as I’m able to get to a point to where I have any chance to contribute and play, I’ll be playing,” Braun said Sunday. “It’s a little bit better today than it was yesterday, so that’s a good thing. I stay optimistic and stay positive, and it will eventually get better. I feel like I’ve been out for a week, and it’s been less than 48 hours since I did it. Hopefully it gets better sooner rather than later.”

It’s a particularly tough time for Braun to be out of the lineup because Nos. 4 and 5 hitters Aramis Ramirez and Corey Hart are on the disabled list with knee injuries. Missing his three, four and five hitters, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke had to shift his lineup around Sunday. Rookie shortstop Jean Segura is hitting third, center fielder Carlos Gomez is hitting second, and second baseman Rickie Weeks is making his first career start in the cleanup spot.

“There’s never a good time for it, it’s never easy,” Braun said. “It’s that much more challenging to watch when you have other guys hurt and we’re not off to a great start. It’s not fun for me to sit here and watch.”

A slow start is something the Brewers are used to. Milwaukee — which is 1-4 this season — started 17-26 last season and was 13-17 through 30 games in 2011.

“It’s happened the last few years, and it’s not a good thing,” said Braun, who is hitting .400 through his first 10 at-bats. “You never want to get off to a slow start. Saying that it’s early, I don’t like saying that at all. When you are in September, what’s the difference? A win is a win, a loss is a loss. Late in the season, you don’t say ‘Well, it’s late, so it doesn’t matter.’ To me, being early in the season, if you are losing games, you are losing games.

“You never want to get off to a slow start, but at least over the past few seasons we’ve proven we can overcome that. That’s a good thing. We’re experienced in getting off to slow starts and turning it around. Hopefully, we turn it around sooner rather than later.”

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