MINNEAPOLIS -- The Brewers entered the back half of their home-and-home series with the Twins on Wednesday slightly banged up and a bit worn out. The bullpen had pitched 23 innings over the past four days, and Tuesday night's 14-inning marathon pushed the team's arrival in Minneapolis back to 2:30 a.m.
At least manager Ron Roenicke has one extra tool at his disposal to give a couple of players some relief the next two days. Two games in an American League park means two chances to use the designated hitter and keep a weary slugger off his feet for nine innings.
Aramis Ramirez got Wednesday night off from his usual third-base duties, allowing him to rest his balky knee, but his bat stayed in the cleanup spot thanks to the DH rule. It is a luxury that Roenicke said was often overrated for National League teams, which do not usually carry a good-hit, no-field type of player on their rosters. But this week, with circumstances conspiring against the Brewers, it was timely.
"Usually for me, it probably hurts the National League team going to American League parks," Roenicke said. "But for us, because of the necessity of where we are with our injuries, it probably helps us."
Ryan Braun would be another likely candidate for a night of relative leisure in the DH spot, having sat out almost all of Monday's game with a nagging injury to his right thumb. Braun started Wednesday's game in left field, though when it is time to fill out Thursday's lineup card, Roenicke indicated his decision could be dictated by who was more banged up.
"I think right now [Ramirez] probably needs it more," Roenicke said, "but that could change."
Even though Braun's injury is the type that affects a player's swing, Roenicke said throwing also aggravates the thumb, so a night away from his defensive duties could help speed Braun's recovery.
"There's a little improvement there, but that can go day to day," Roenicke said. "And hopefully it won't come to the point where we need to take time off. As long as we're heading in the right direction, he's getting better."
As for that beleaguered bullpen, the Brewers were hoping for a long outing from Wednesday starter Marco Estrada. Roenicke also said using Mike Fiers for three innings Tuesday would not affect his scheduled start Saturday at Philadelphia.
"He says he feels good today, so I guess it would be like having a little longer bullpen session than normal," Roenicke said. "We were talking about maybe pitching him an inning today if [Tuesday's game] hadn't happened and we needed an inning today, so we should be fine."
Patrick Donnelly is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less