MILWAUKEE -- One big bat returned to the Brewers' lineup Tuesday as another hit the 15-day disabled list.
The returnee was right fielder Ryan Braun, who was back in the starting lineup and played the first six innings against the Pirates before making a planned exit, his first game action since April 26, when he exited with a right rib cage strain. Braun took the roster spot vacated by cleanup hitter Aramis Ramirez, who was placed on the DL with a strained left hamstring.
"It's nice to have one of them in there," manager Ron Roenicke said. "When both of them are out, the interesting part is being there before games trying to figure out a lineup."
The Brewers also recalled switch-hitting utility man Elian Herrera from Triple-A Nashville and optioned outfielder Caleb Gindl. Herrera's defensive versatility could come in handy this week, as could his right-handed bat against left-handed Pirates pitchers on Wednesday and Thursday.
The Brewers offered no timetable for Ramirez's return, and Ramirez himself declined to venture a guess because this is the first hamstring injury of his career. Braun's return mitigated that loss; he was hitting .375 with three home runs and eight RBIs in the 10 games immediately prior to his injury, and entered the night batting .367 this season and .322 in his career against Pittsburgh.
"As long as I didn't have any setbacks or feel like I was headed in the wrong direction, the plan all along was for me hopefully to be back today," Braun said. "I'm excited to be back. It feels like it's been a long time."
He and club officials debated a one-game Minor League rehab assignment, but weather worries up the road at Class A Wisconsin and travel challenges elsewhere got in the way. Braun instead reported to Miller Park on Monday for treatment while the rest of the team was off.
"I came in, got treatment, went through all my stuff, and had some open and honest dialogue about how I was feeling and how it was responding," Braun said. "I think as long as yesterday it felt good enough to play, the plan was to play today. We had discussed possibly doing a rehab game [Tuesday] and being activated [Wednesday], but I feel like I'm ready."
Does his sudden return represent a risk?
"I don't think so," Braun said. "I don't know that playing one game and getting three at-bats would have necessarily done anything. If I was going down there and I was scheduled to play two or three games, that's a different situation. I was literally just going to go for a game, maybe five innings, seven innings, something like that.
"It's not hard [to adjust to live pitching]. In Spring Training, I hadn't seen live pitching in seven months and I think I went 8-for-9 with three homers or something. I'll be OK."