SEATTLE -- Cleanup man and third baseman Aramis Ramirez is expected to return from the Brewers' disabled list on Tuesday in Texas a much healthier player than the last time he attempted a comeback.
The Brewers have missed a bat that produced 27 home runs, 105 RBIs and a National League-leading 50 doubles in 2012, Ramirez's debut season in Milwaukee. He has been bothered throughout 2013 by a sprained left knee originally suffered in Spring Training that forced stints on the disabled list in April and early May, and sent Ramirez back to the DL on July 8.
Playing through pain, Ramirez has been limited to five home runs, 26 RBIs and a .414 slugging percentage in 54 games. Manager Ron Roenicke is hoping for some production down the stretch.
"I know he's been out a long time and it's probably not ideal [to immediately reinstate Ramirez to the cleanup spot]," Roenicke said. "It's not ideal that he doesn't go out on rehab, either. But, sometimes, that's what we do."
Roenicke discussed with Ramirez the merits of taking some Minor League at-bats before returning. Ramirez would have been amenable, Roenicke said, had the Brewers been home and Class A Wisconsin were a convenient venue. But with the Brewers in the midst of a long road trip, Ramirez exercised his right to decline a rehab assignment.
Ramirez is closer to full strength now then he was on May 3, when he began his first comeback.
"I think that's why he's been out so long," Roenicke said. "He could have come back, certainly a couple of weeks ago, but if he did, he would not have been healthy again."
Roenicke plans to use Ramirez as the designated hitter for one game and at third base in another during the Brewers' brief two-game trip to Texas, but declined to reveal the order.
Ramirez spoke earlier on this road trip about finishing the season strong.
"We don't have much time left, and I want to play before I go home," Ramirez said in San Francisco last week. "Hopefully, we finish strong. [It is important] to every player. You don't want to go home hurt or think that you're hurt. You want to leave with some positives, at least playing, then rehab in the offseason and prepare for Spring Training."
Ramirez will earn $16 million next season in the final year of his contract, with $6 million of that total deferred. The deal includes a $14 million mutual option for 2015 with a $4 million buyout. The Brewers plan to wait until they arrive in Arlington to make the roster move required to activate Ramirez, Roenicke said.