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Ryan Braun heads to DL with strained right oblique

St. Louis Cardinals v Milwaukee Brewers
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When Ryan Braun accidentally clocked teammate Jean Segura with a practice swing on April 26, there was immediate concern that Segura would be forced to miss significant time as a result. As it turns out, Segura required only a few stitches, thankfully, and returned to Milwaukee's lineup on Thursday. Braun, on the other hand, suffered a strained oblique later in the same game while making a throw from the outfield, and now he's the one looking at a significant absence after being placed on the 15-day DL on Saturday.

Braun was originally diagnosed with a right intercostal strain and listed as day-to-day. However, a week off has done him little good, and the Brewers can't afford to continue playing with a short bench. During his absence, manager Ron Roenicke had to call on Elian Herrera and career corner infielder/designated hitter Mark Reynolds to log playing time in right field. The team was also without Segura and Aramis Ramirez for part of their series in St. Louis, leaving them with only two reserves.

Reinforcements are on the way now though. In fact, the timing actually worked out pretty well for Milwaukee with outfielder Logan Schafer eligible to come off the DL on Saturday. He'll be reinstated to take Braun's roster spot, but obviously he won't be replacing Braun's production. Despite a nagging thumb injury that has also cost him a few games, Braun was off to a terrific start, hitting .318/.361/.591 with six homers in 22 games.

The offense predictably struggled with him out of the lineup this week, scoring only 18 runs over six games, but the good news is they were still able to split those games and maintain their league best 21-9 record. They currently hold a six game lead over the second place St. Louis Cardinals.

The question now is where exactly will Milwaukee stand when Braun returns, whether it be a week, two weeks or a month down the road. It's their first major adversity of the season, and also don't forget that Carlos Gomez will have his appeal heard on Monday, which means his suspension (currently three games) will be served during the coming week. Milwaukee's staying power in the NL Central is about to be challenged. Now we'll see how they respond.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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