MILWAUKEE -- Ryan Braun declined to detail the family medical emergency that sent him home to Los Angeles and onto the Brewers' bereavement list for four days prior to the All-Star break, but he said he was ready to get back to baseball as the team opened the second half against the Marlins on Friday night at Miller Park.
"This was one of those moments where I needed to be home with my family," Braun said. "Everybody is doing much better."
The family emergency came to light only two days after Braun was activated from a month-long stint on the disabled list with a right hand injury. He played one game against the Reds, going 1-for-3, then took a planned day off before the Brewers traveled to Phoenix to face the D-backs for the final four games of the first half. The following morning, he informed club officials he needed to head home.
The unexpected trip gave Braun another full week to rest the inflamed nerve in his right hand, but as he prepared for batting practice on Friday, he said the issue remained, "status quo."
"I think that's what we've been told to expect," Braun said. "I'm optimistic that at some point it will start to get better, but we've been told to expect it to be where it's at. As long as 'where it's at' is where I'm able to play, that's all I can really ask for."
Braun was in left field and batting third in Friday's 2-0 win over the Marlins. He went 0-for-3 with a strikeout before leaving the game after six innings, part of manager Ron Roenicke's plan to ease Braun back into action.
"It wasn't necessarily six [innings], it was just how the game went," Roenicke said after the game. "We wanted to get three at-bats. … At least right now we're thinking about putting him in there again [on Saturday]."
Of Braun's hand pain, Roenicke said, "It's not gone, but he's better, and hopefully he can swing the way he wants to."
"It does feel good to see him back out there," Brewers right-hander Kyle Lohse said of Braun. "It's definitely a presence. He went 0-for-3, but it's the fact that you know at any moment he could put one out of the park. It will be good to get him healthy and back out there on a nightly basis, and watch him go do his thing."
Braun has declined to field questions about the other issue looming over his second half, Major League Baseball's investigation into the Biogenesis anti-aging clinic to which he has been linked.
Ramirez cautious as DL stint nears conclusion
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."
All-Stars Gomez, Segura found time for rest
MILWAUKEE -- Jean Segura and Carlos Gomez each said they put aside enough time for rest over the All-Star break despite spending the first two days caught up in the week's festivities.
The Brewers' two All-Star representatives left New York after the Midsummer Classic on Tuesday night and took most of Wednesday and Thursday to catch up on rest -- Gomez spent much of Wednesday with family at the Wisconsin Dells water parks.
It seems the rest did Gomez good, as he hit his 15th homer of the year, a solo shot, in the fifth inning of the Brewers' 2-0 win over the Marlins on Friday night.
Gomez said he looks forward to the end of the season -- when he typically plays his best. Segura was just ready to get back in the swing of things.
"It was fun, I enjoyed the time [in New York] and I feel pretty good," Segura said. "I'll be ready to continue to play my game and to try and get better and everything."
Segura and Gomez -- who were both retired by Mariano Rivera as pinch-hitters in the eighth inning of the All-Star Game -- each battled slumps toward the end of the first half.
After going 4-for-5 with two doubles and two RBIs against the Mets on July 5, Gomez ended the first half on a 2-for-32 skid. He struck out 12 times with four walks and his slash line was .063/.162/.156. during the span.
But Gomez pointed out his career numbers in July compared to the final two months of the season.
"In my career, in this month, I hit like .170," said Gomez, who was off a bit on his .227 career average in July. "But I'm really happy and excited, because August and September is when I have the best numbers of my career. August and September is when I'm exploding everything. If you are up and down this month, you get it back in August and September."
The center fielder has hit .251 in August and .267 in September/October in his career.
"Before the All-Star Game, it's just a slump. Back up again, it's normal," said Gomez, who entered Friday's game against the Marlins hitting .295 with 14 homers and 45 RBIs. "Basically it's up and down, but we play to keep it as consistent as you can. My confidence is there and the hard part is over, the first half."
Segura is in his first full season as a Major Leaguer, but he's not too worried about his mini hitting slump that stretched from the end of June to the beginning of July. The shortstop hit .167 from June 29-July 7, but ended the first half with 11 hits in his final seven games.
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said he was not worried about his two All-Stars to start the second half.
"They're going to have energy, I thought they had energy at the end," Roenicke said. "Sometimes you just go into a slump, whether you're worn down or whether you have an injury -- which both of them have some small injuries. So hopefully they're a little healthier. They both enjoyed the All-Star Game and they got a couple days off after that."
Estrada's rehab back on track
MILWAUKEE -- Brewers manager Ron Roenicke had better news to report on Friday about right-hander Marco Estrada, who appears back on track in his return from a left hamstring injury.
Estrada, whose comeback was slowed before the All-Star break by back tightness, threw a successful bullpen session on Thursday, according to Roenicke, and will throw sessions on Saturday and Sunday, followed by live batting practice three days later. Assuming no more setbacks, Estrada would then begin a Minor League rehabilitation assignment expected to span three starts.
"The way it's mapped out, we're still looking at a couple weeks, maybe into August," Roenicke said. "The hamstring is OK, and the back is fine now. So we're basically starting him over like we would in Spring Training."
Estrada was the Brewers' No. 2 starter coming out of Spring Training and was 4-4 with a 5.32 ERA in his first 12 starts.
• Micah Owings is a pitcher turned hitter whom the Brewers hope turns into something in the middle.
"He is the reincarnation of Brooks Kieschnick," assistant general manager Gord Ash said.
Kieschnick found a cult following with the Brewers as a power-hitting relief pitcher in 2003-04, posting a 4.59 ERA with eight home runs in those two seasons. Often he would pitch the top of an inning and then bat, saving then-manager Ned Yost a bench player.
Owings signed a Minor League contract with the Brewers after opting out of his Triple-A deal with the Nationals, for whom he had been working exclusively as a hitter. He was expected to make his first appearance as a pitcher since 2011 on Friday night at rookie-level Arizona, but the outing was pushed to Monday because of what Ash termed minor arm soreness.
When he has built sufficient arm strength, Owings will be assigned to Double-A Huntsville, Ash said.
"The appeal with us is we wanted him to do both [pitching and hitting]," Ash said.
• Roenicke said he'd heard no major complaints following Thursday's voluntary workout about the condition of center field at Miller Park, where a huge stage was constructed and then taken down for a Paul McCartney concert on Tuesday. The grounds crew replaced about 2,800 square feet of sod after the show.
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.