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Sore neck sidelines Braun, Aramis exits early

Ramirez sprains left knee on slide into second base in fourth inning

Sore neck sidelines Braun, Aramis exits early

MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers were poised to make their first roster move of the budding season after left fielder Ryan Braun missed Friday's game with neck spasms and third baseman Aramis Ramirez resprained his left knee sliding into second base in the fourth inning of a 3-1 loss to the D-backs at Miller Park.

The Brewers were hopeful Braun can play Saturday night, though he spoke to reporters with a heating pad on his neck and later said he could not move his head in any direction.

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Ramirez's injury could be much more troubling, considering he missed two weeks in Spring Training with the same injury. He said he would undergo an MRI scan on Saturday.

"I don't want to assume anything," Ramirez said. "Same thing that happened in Spring Training. This time there was a little more soreness than the last time, but I don't want to get ahead of myself because I don't know."

Both players were off to hot starts. Braun hit safely, scored a run and drove in a run in each of the team's first three games of the season, and Ramirez had doubled in each of the first three games before his single on Friday. He tried to make it four games in a row, but was thrown out by Arizona left fielder Jason Kubel trying to stretch a single down the left-field line.

There is no good time for a team to lose its three- and four-hole hitters to injuries, but the Brewers are particularly thin at the moment because Corey Hart is sidelined into May while recovering from knee surgery, and the team opted to open the season with a 13-man pitching staff. That means the Brewers had only four players on the bench at the start of the season, including the backup catcher.

They also have a full 40-man roster, complicating things in the event a player is promoted from Triple-A Nashville. Taylor Green and Jeff Bianchi are on the 40-man roster but are on the DL with hip injuries. The only other healthy infielder already on the 40-man is second-base prospect Scooter Gennett.

"We're going to look at it [Saturday] and make a decision," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "It's similar to what [Ramirez] did in Spring Training, so tomorrow we'll have a better answer as to whether it's a DL [move] or if we think it's just a few days."

Roenicke conceded the Brewers may err on the side of the DL because their bench is so short.

"We're going to have to cover ourselves," he said. "It's going to be tough. If we think [Ramirez] is going to be out 7-10 days at least, we may decide just to DL him. For one, to make sure he's 100 percent when he comes back. And also with the short bench, we've got to get somebody in here."

There was hope for a speedy recovery for Braun, who began feeling stiffness in his neck during a workout Friday afternoon. He received treatment from the team's athletic trainers, but the right side of his neck "locked up" during his second round of batting practice.

"I've had a sore neck from sleeping, but not like this, not to the point where I can't move my neck," Braun said.

He added: "I don't think there is ever a good time, but it certainly makes it more challenging when there are multiple guys dealing with stuff. I think your depth is always challenged as a team, and we're going through one of those phases where, hopefully, other guys have a chance to step up, and need to step up."

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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