Ryan Braun is reportedly still dealing with the hand/thumb problem that troubled him last season. So that's a troubling piece of news. The primary issue is an inflamed nerve between Braun's right thumb and index finger. He's dealing with numbness, which has led to other woes.
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Additional details here, via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Tom Haudricourt:
"It's the same thing [as in 2013]," said Braun, who was robbed of his power by the issue last year before finally being suspended for the final 65 games for PED use. "The nerve is messed up so my whole thumb is numb, so I can't feel gripping the ball or the bat. So I gripped it too hard and I have crazy bruises and blisters."
Asked if there was any chance it would improve, Braun said, "It is what it is. I hope [it doesn't last all year]. I'm optimistic that eventually we'll figure something out."
Surgery is apparently a possibility here, although the procedure isn't a guaranteed fix. Braun went 0-for-5 as Milwaukee's DH on Friday during interleague play at Boston. But that, obviously, is not a full-season solution for a National League slugger. So we have a problem.
Braun suffered a pre-suspension power outage last season while dealing with this same injury, you might recall. He homered seven times last April, but he only cleared the fence twice over his final 141 at-bats. Braun had an excellent spring this year (15-for-36, 3 HR, 5 doubles), so we had reason to believe he was poised for another upper-tier fantasy campaign.
And now this. Drat.
If you're a Braun owner, you really can't sell now, today. You won't like the offers that hit your inbox — unless you're a huge fan of, say, Michael Cuddyer. You'll need to let this situation develop. As Braun himself says, the team may "figure something out," and that something may not be a surgical remedy.
But if you're determined to deal Braun before more bad news breaks, at least wait for a multi-hit game. It's important to have a positive event to take to the trade market, because Braun is going to have that terrible Rotoworld note attached to his player page for a little while. Bummer.
It's much too early (and too depressing) to start talking replacement options for your fantasy oufield (like, say, Dexter Fowler, Angel Pagan, Abraham Almonte, Seth Smith or Gerardo Parra). Just allow this story to unfold. Maybe the ending won't be disastrous.