MILWAUKEE -- Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez wants to get his latest return from the disabled list right. If that means waiting beyond Monday, the first day he's eligible to return from a left knee injury, then he will wait.
Ramirez's caution makes sense for his current team on two fronts. First, the Brewers would benefit from having him healthy and productive in the lineup, with No. 3 hitter Ryan Braun still dealing with discomfort in his right hand and Corey Hart out for the season. Second, the team could shop Ramirez much more proactively on the trade market if he is producing at his customarily consistent level.
"I really have to make sure that I'm healthy enough to play when I come back," said Ramirez, who spent the All-Star break at home in the Dominican Republic. "I won't try to be a hero. I won't go out there if I'm not healthy enough, because I won't help the team, I won't help myself by doing that. If I feel like I won't be ready [on Monday], I won't be back."
Ramirez, whose three-year contract runs through 2014, says he does not concern himself with trade rumors.
"I've been around for a while, and I will be good trying to block out the things that I cannot control," he said. "That's one of those things I cannot control. The only thing I can control is my play on the field. Nothing would surprise me. I'm ready for anything."
One national baseball writer surmised on Friday that the Yankees and Red Sox would each send a scout to file reports on Ramirez after he returns from the DL. If both clubs prove interested in the 35-year-old right-handed slugger, it could turn into a situation similar to last July, when Brewers GM Doug Melvin pitted division rivals (Angels and Rangers) against each other bidding for right-hander Zack Greinke.
Greinke, who landed with the Angels, was performing at a much higher level at the time than Ramirez has in 2013. Dogged all season by a knee he first sprained during Spring Training, he has been limited to five home runs, 11 doubles, 26 RBIs and 54 games.
After a successful round of batting practice in the indoor cages on Friday afternoon, Ramirez could not commit to a Monday return. That was OK with manager Ron Roenicke.
"I talked to him today, and I'm not sure if he'll be ready Monday," Roenicke said. "He told me he's going to be smart this time. He's not just going to go out there and play on it regardless. ... We were careful with him, but he wants to play. He doesn't like to sit out. He knows how much we need him out there. As hard as it was for him to not perform well, you certainly respect a player who will go out there when he's not 100 percent, knowing that he can help a team win even though he's got some pain."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. Kevin Massoth is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.