MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers have a plan to ease left fielder Ryan Braun into action during the final series before the All-Star break and to back third baseman Aramis Ramirez off, aiming in both instances to come out of the break with a healthy tandem in the middle of the lineup.
Manager Ron Roenicke views getting those two players healthy -- Braun's right hand and Ramirez's left knee -- is key to the Brewers climbing out of the National League Central cellar. The Brewers also hope to get right-handed starter Marco Estrada (left hamstring) off the DL after the break.
"Somewhere along here, we certainly want to be a good team and a team that's consistent for a while," Roencike said. "That's what we've been missing; we'll have a couple of good games and then play a couple of bad games. Then have a bad series, and then have a couple good series. It's tough when you see [that].
"With everybody healthy, we're a good team. With the injuries that we have, we still feel like we should be playing a lot better baseball than we have been. The consistency is all over the place. From game to game, we don't know how to play."
If that sounds like a frustrating situation for a big league manager, it is.
"At times, it's hard to watch," Roenicke said. "There's times out there where I can't believe we're playing that poorly. Thank goodness you play every day, and you don't see it the next day. That's a good thing."
Braun, on the disabled list since June 14 because of an inflamed nerve between his right thumb and forefinger, will take batting practice Monday and Tuesday and could be activated from the DL to play limited innings against Arizona in the Brewers' final series before the break. Ramirez, meanwhile, will be held out of the lineup for much of that series, hoping to use those days off combined with the four-day break to build strength in a balky knee that has sapped his power over the past two months.
Thursday looks like the most convenient day for the Brewers to make a roster move to accommodate Braun's return, with young right-hander Johnny Hellweg slated to start against the Reds on Wednesday afternoon.
"I wouldn't say [Thursday] is as soon as he could play," Roenicke said, "but I think that's probably a good thing to shoot for. I know he's probably wanting to go before that, but we'll see how it goes [Monday] and the next day."
Braun would not play all nine innings at the start, nor would he play all four games against the D-backs.
"He's got to get his legs under him," Roenicke said. "If we can get him maybe back before the All-Star break and let him play in some games, and then use the break as kind of how you would recuperate in Spring Training, that would be ideal."
As for Ramirez, he has been playing at far less than 100 percent since a month-long stint on the DL in April and early May that came after he sprained the same knee he injured in Spring Training. He is batting .271 with five home runs and 26 RBIs, far off his 27-homer, 105-RBI output from last season.
He exited Saturday's win over the Mets because of discomfort in the knee and had Sunday off, but was expected back on Monday against the Reds.
"I know if you look at numbers, you may say, 'Well, you would have been better to rest him,' but we didn't know coming into this what kind of production that we would get out of him," Roenicke said. "We were hoping we would still get quite a bit, knowing that he wasn't 100 percent.
"Who knows? Maybe Monday he comes out and he hits a couple home runs. You don't know where it's going to go."
Segura's All-Star role to depend on Tulo's health
MILWAUKEE -- Brewers shortstop Jean Segura will be scanning the news in the coming days for updates on fellow National League All-Star Troy Tulowitzki, whose rehab from a broken rib will determine whether Segura remains an NL reserve or moves into the starting lineup.
"If I start, it's going to be great," Segura said. "But I don't want anybody to get hurt. Tulo is a great player, and I think right now he is the only guy who can start over me, you know?"
Segura was correct about that. Tulowitzki was voted to the NL starting lineup by fans, and if he cannot play because of injury, Segura would get the nod by rule, as the top vote-getter among shortstops on the players' ballot.
He received 438 votes from his peers to Tulowitzki's 309.
Tulowitzki has indicated that he believes he will be ready to start the All-Star Game, but will only do so if he is able to play for the Rockies first. He took an aggressive round of batting practice on Saturday and was scheduled for another on Sunday. If all goes well, a brief Minor League rehab assignment could follow.
"It's still up in the air," Tulowitzki said.
Said Segura: "He is a great player, so I think if he would go, he would start."
Either way, Segura is in for a hectic All-Star break. Things have been hectic for the now 23-year-old since last July, when the Brewers acquired him from the Angels as the centerpiece of a package for Zack Greinke. By August, Segura was in the Majors, and after a successful late-season stint with the Brewers, he played for the Gigantes in the Dominican Winter League, winning the batting title with a .324 average.
Then it was back to the Brewers for Spring Training and his first Major League Opening Day roster. On Sunday, Segura made his 83rd start in the Brewers' 87th game.
His all-out style of play has taken a toll, as have a series of opponents' pitches that have struck Segura on the hands and wrists. Would Segura benefit from some rest over the All-Star break instead? Yes, manager Ron Roenicke said.
But Segura will instead revel in the pomp and circumstance of baseball's All-Star showcase.
"I don't care. It's the All-Star Game. I don't care how tired I am," Segura said. "This is something that you never forget."
• Brewers general manager Doug Melvin has said that any young player on the bubble of a big league roster is well-served by playing Winter Ball to prepare for Spring Training. Segura looks like the latest example.
"Winter Ball has helped a lot of young guys," Segura said. "You face the top competition. You face a lot of guys throwing over 95, 100 [mph], guys who throw slow breaking balls and sliders. This is a good league when you have a chance to make a team in the big leagues."
Barring a complete collapse in Spring Training, Segura's spot was safe. But his stint with the Gigantes in the Dominican Winter League is getting credit for Segura's better-than-expected start to the season, which led to a spot on the National League All-Star team.
• The Brewers will host the Reds beginning Monday, with Cincinnati right-hander Homer Bailey pitching for the first time since he no-hit the Giants at Great American Ball Park on Tuesday. The Reds drafted Bailey seventh overall in 2004, two picks after the Brewers took Mark Rogers, a fellow right-hander whose career is currently stalled by a shoulder issue. The Brewers liked both leading up to that Draft, but picked Rogers because he fared far better on a psychological profile than Bailey, who told the interviewer he was more interested in hunting and fishing than baseball.