The Brewers badly miss cleanup hitter Aramis Ramirez, who has been out of action a week with a sprained left knee. But manager Ron Roenicke said Sunday the veteran third baseman is going to need extra time to heal.
Ramirez is eligible to be activated from the 15-day DL on April 21 but Roenicke said he'll probably need longer.
"He played catch (Saturday) but it's not coming along as quick as it did in spring training," said Roenicke, referring to the two weeks Ramirez missed when he first sprained the knee.
"So, it's hard to answer when exactly that date is going to be. We'll just, day to day, see how he progresses, how he feels. But I know, and I talked to him yesterday about it, we can't rush this thing.
"Aramis is a gamer. He'll go out there and play hurt. But this isn't something that we can have him go out there until he's ready because if he does this again, I'm really concerned on the length of time. We can't afford to lose this guy again. You see how it changes our lineup and what we do offensively with him not in there.
"So, I think we need to be cautious and make sure that when he's able to go out there that he's really ready."
Roenicke said the Brewers can ill afford for Ramirez to injure the knee a third time. In that event, the damage could be severe enough to keep him out of the lineup for an extended period.
Accordingly, when Ramirez does return, Roenicke said he will be cautious with him.
"Once he's back, as much as I hate to do it, as much as he hates to do it, we can't be aggressive with him on the bases," said Roenicke. "We'll stop sending him unless it's a stand-up double. He needs for a while at least to stop at first. He's OK if he keeps hitting them off the wall. The ones in the gap, he's going to have to put in the breaks."
Without Ramirez, the Brewers have struggled mightily in the cleanup role. Replacements are 2-for-30 (.067) with only one run batted in.