MILWAUKEE — The news could have been a lot worse, but Milwaukee Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez was placed on the 15-day disabled list Saturday with a sprained left knee after an MRI revealed no tears.
To take his place on the roster, the team recalled utility man Josh Prince from Triple-A Nashville. Though Ramirez may not need the full 15 days to recover, the Brewers couldn’t wait around with an already limited bench because they are carrying 13 pitchers and left fielder Ryan Braun is plagued by a neck strain.
Braun is still unable to move his neck and will miss his second straight game Saturday.
Brewers assistant general manager Gord Ash said he’s been told the worst-case scenario would keep Braun out of the lineup for five days. Braun tried to loosen up his neck Friday night to see if he could pinch hit, but it didn’t work.
Ramirez’s injury is the same as the one he suffered in spring training. As he did in March, the team’s cleanup hitter behind Braun sprained his left knee while sliding into second base trying to stretch a single into a double. Ramirez said the pain he felt initially Friday was worse than how he felt in spring training, but Saturday he was moving around much better and said it wasn’t as bad as the first injury.
“Could have been worse,” Ramirez said. ” … Last night, I didn’t feel good. It’s never good to have any injuries, but at least it’s not that serious.”
Ramirez knows the Brewers had to put him on the disabled list regardless of whether he recovers in a shorter period of time.
“They have to,” Ramirez said. “Last time it took me two weeks. That will give me a full 15 days to recover. You never know how long it is going to take because you can’t do anything about it. You just have to let it heal.”
Prince is a versatile player who can be used all over the diamond. In the middle of camp, the Brewers unveiled a plan that would have Prince playing multiple positions at Triple-A. He started Nashville’s opener in center field and started Friday night at shortstop. The plan was to rotate Prince between all three outfield spots, third base, shortstop and second base.
“Really he’s covering us right now,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. “He’s an infielder, and he’s an outfielder. We’re still not covered at first base. I think he buys us some time that if we do make a move somewhere, he can cover us until then.”
His presence on the 40-man roster, plus his versatility, made him the choice to come up for the time being.
“It’s being in the right place at the right time,” Prince said. “I’m a very religious guy, so I believe everything happens for a reason, and I’m in the right place at the right time. It’s awesome. I’m still speechless, I really am.”
An already scuffling offense must now play without its three, four and five hitters, for the time being. First baseman Corey Hart, who usually mans the five spot, is out until May recovering from a knee injury. For the time being, Alex Gonzalez will shift over to third base with Yuniesky Betancourt starting at first base. Martin Maldonado is able to play first base but is also the backup catcher. Ash said Taylor Green — on the disabled list with a hip injury — could begin playing next week. He could be an option to provide coverage at first base, as could Blake Lalli.
Roenicke even hinted the team could look outside of the organization for first base help, but right now will go with Betancourt.
“That’s a little tough,” Roenicke said. “We need everybody to swing it, anyway. You can’t always count on Ramy and Brauny. I think there’s enough guys that are swinging it well that if the other guys start swinging like we know they can (we’ll be alright).
“Sometimes you lose one of the two or one of your main guys. It’s been a little challenging.”