With third base turning into a black hole offensively in a lineup struggling to score runs, the Milwaukee Brewers could wait no longer to call up Ryan Braun.
The Brewers announced late Thursday night that Braun, 23, their top everyday prospect in the minor leagues, was being summoned from Class AAA Nashville. Club officials waited until after Braun played in the Sounds' game against Memphis in Nashville because they wanted him to get additional at-bats after spending time recently on the disabled list.
To make room on their roster for Braun, the Brewers placed reliever Elmer Dessens on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right shoulder, retroactive to Saturday. Braun is expected to be in the lineup tonight for the game against San Diego.
Contacted at Nashville's Greer Stadium after getting the news, Braun said his manager, Frank Kremblas, called him into his office and merely gave him the flight itinerary to San Diego.
"He didn't say anything," Braun said. "It took me a second to figure it out. I couldn't believe it. It's absolutely incredible. It's great to get the opportunity and I'm looking forward to the challenge."
The decision to summon Braun was made because the third-base platoon of veteran infielders Craig Counsell and Tony Graffanino has generated virtually no offense. The Brewers rank 28th among the 30 major-league clubs at that position in slugging percentage (.273), 27th in batting average (.214), tied for 26th in home runs (one) and runs scored (16) and 25th in runs batted in (14).
Braun, on the other hand, took a .726 slugging percentage and 1.152 OPS (on-base plus slugging) into Nashville's game against Memphis, both figures tops in the Pacific Coast League. Twenty-two of his 39 hits were for extra bases, and he led the Sounds with 10 home runs. After going 0 for 4 with a walk in Nashville's 9-5 victory, Braun was batting .342 with 22 RBI in 34 games.
The Brewers are looking to add some punch to an attack that has slipped badly during a 4-9 stretch that began with the previous trip to New York and Philadelphia. Over that 13-game slide, they scored three or fewer runs eight times.
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