Braun strains neck, Ramirez sprains knee

MILWAUKEE — Not only did the Milwaukee Brewers lose their third straight game Friday, they lost their three and four hitters in the process.

Left fielder Ryan Braun was scratched a half hour before first pitch with a right neck strain, while third baseman Aramis Ramirez left Friday’s 3-1 loss to Arizona with a left knee sprain.

Ramirez missed two weeks of spring training with the same injury, also suffered while sliding into second base. He will get an MRI on Saturday to further determine the severity of the injury.

“I don’t want to assume anything,” Ramirez said. “Same thing that happened in spring training. This time it was a little more sore than the last time. I don’t want to get ahead of myself. The last time it took me two weeks, hopefully this time it doesn’t take me this long.”

Ramirez was injured in the bottom of the fourth inning when he awkwardly slid into second base trying to stretch a single into a double.

Off the bat it appeared to be an easy double, but the ball caromed off the wall and rolled right to Diamondbacks left fielder Jason Kubel, who easily threw Ramirez out.

“I’ve never hurt my knee before,” Ramirez said. “It probably happened because I hurt it before in spring training. It wasn’t 100 percent yet. But I was able to play with the soreness.”

Braun first felt the neck injury while working out Friday afternoon. He had trainers work on it, but his neck locked up during his second round of batting practice.

As far as his availability for Saturday, Braun said “we’ll see how it feels tomorrow.” He was moving gingerly in the clubhouse after the game with a heating pad on his neck.

“I’ve had a sore neck before, but nothing like this, not spasms to the point where I can’t move my neck,” Braun said. “It’s uncomfortable.”

Carrying 13 pitchers to start the season, the Brewers already were thin on the bench before the two injuries. When Ramirez left the game, first baseman Alex Gonzalez shifted over to play third base for the first time in his big league career, while Yuniesky Betancourt came in at first base.

Milwaukee was then left with just outfielder Logan Schafer and backup catcher Martin Maldonado on the bench.

“Tomorrow we’ll have a better answer if it’s a DL or just a couple of days,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. “We’re going to have to cover ourselves. It’s going to be tough. If we think Ramy is going to be out 7-to-10 days at least, we may decide to DL him to make sure he’s 100 percent when he comes back and with a short bench we have to get somebody in here.”

With a stint on the disabled list a possibility for Ramirez, Braun dealing with a neck strain and first baseman Corey Hart already out with a knee injury, the Brewers may have to play without their three, four and five hitters for a stretch of time.

Milwaukee’s offense has scored just 13 runs in the first 37 innings of 2013.

“I don’t think there ever is a right time but certainly it makes it challenging when there’s multiple guys dealing with stuff,” Braun said. “Your depth is always challenged as a team and we are going through one of those phases right now where other guys have an opportunity to step up and need to step up.”

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