PITTSBURGH -- The disappointing news that first baseman Corey Hart was lost for the season with another knee injury caused only a ripple in the Brewers' clubhouse on Friday. Some players knew days earlier because they'd been in contact with Hart. For others, the news simply fit the narrative of a frustrating season.
"I don't think guys just roll with it when it's a player they like as much as Corey," manager Ron Roenicke said. "But there's so much happening this year, it's like, 'Just another one.'"
Roenicke shrugs for emphasis. It has been that kind of year for the Brewers, who lost three first basemen to season-ending injuries (Hart, Mat Gamel and Taylor Green), played without third baseman Aramis Ramirez for a month and are currently without left fielder Ryan Braun, who could remain sidelined through the All-Star break because of a right hand injury.
Those injuries do not completely explain the team's woes, but they have undoubtedly contributed to a club that entered Saturday 14 games under .500 and 16 1/2 games behind the first-place Pirates.
"You don't want guys saying, 'Oh no, Corey's down, we're in trouble,'" Roenicke said. "It's rather than just go, 'Whatever.'"
Teammates Braun and Jonathan Lucroy were among the players who knew well ahead of Friday's announcement that Hart was lost for the season.
"I feel for him, personally, because he's one of my closest friends on the team," Braun said. "I know everything he has gone through and how frustrating the process has been for him. Obviously, it affects us as a team because, No. 1, if he comes back, it makes us better, and No. 2, with his pending free agency, maybe we trade him and get a significant package back for him. So nothing good comes from [his setback]. First and foremost, I feel terrible for Corey."
Said Lucroy: "It's a tough thing, but we need to move past it and guys need to step up. All around, it's been a tough battle, but we need to keep battling. You sort of keep your head up.
"We are playing hard every day. We're not winning every day, but we're playing hard and we expect to be successful. But at the same time, we have to be realistic in that we don't have all of our weapons. We need guys to step up in place of the guys who are down."
Despite recovery, Braun likely out until All-Star break
PITTSBURGH -- Brewers slugger Ryan Braun had a good day in the training room on Saturday -- "Probably the best day he has had, as far as one day to the other, so that's encouraging," manager Ron Roenicke said -- but he is not expected to swing a bat again until Tuesday and, barring an unexpected breakthrough, he will remain sidelined until after the All-Star break.
Braun is on the disabled list because of an irritated nerve between his right thumb and index finger. He went to the disabled list for the first time in his career after a visit with specialist Don Sheridan, who recommended a long period of rest.
"The date he said we should target is pretty far in the future," Braun said. "I certainly hope that I'm back before that date, but a nerve is unlike a muscle or a bone or a tendon or a ligament where there is a specific amount of time, where you know what you're dealing with. There's not a whole lot you can do except rest."
Braun declined to specify that mystery target date, but a source said it was after the July 15-18 All-Star break. Braun will miss that event for the first time since 2007, when he did not debut in the Major Leagues until late May.
Sheridan recommended waiting until Braun's hand was very close to 100 percent before attempting to swing a bat, lest the nerve becomes a nagging issue that bothers Braun through the rest of his career. He has been taking swings about once a week to gauge his progress.
"I don't like timetables with injuries," Braun said. "It's like with Corey [Hart], you can't set a date because you just don't know."
Hellweg learns from rough first Major League outing
PITTSBURGH -- A day later, could Brewers manager Ron Roenicke identify any positives from Johnny Hellweg's anticlimactic Major League debut?
"No, I can't," the manager said simply. "We brought him in today and talked to him, and I was encouraged today in talking to him. He's going to get after it the next outing, and we'll see, with his best stuff, what Major League hitters can do with it. He was disappointed that they never saw his best stuff."
The 6-foot-9 right-hander's first-pitch fastball on Friday registered 87 mph, way off the 102 mph he touched in a start for Triple-A Nashville earlier this season. He eventually got up to 93 mph in a 1-2-3 first inning and touched 97 on a few occasions in the second, but with disastrous results.
Hellweg was charged with seven runs -- five earned, because of a Jean Segura error -- on six hits and two walks, while recording only the first two outs of the second inning. He will try to be more aggressive when he makes his follow-up start on Wednesday in Washington, D.C.
"I think there were a couple of positives," Hellweg said. "I saw that if you make a good pitch, a guy hits a groundout. I also saw they hit mistakes. … The pace I tried to set for myself probably wasn't a good idea, trying to build into it. That didn't really work out the way I wanted to."
• Sean Halton made his first Major League start Saturday, with Roenicke opting to sit right fielder Norichika Aoki against Pirates lefty Francisco Liriano.
"Nori hits lefties usually so well, I don't like to take him out," Roenicke said, "but this guy [Liriano] is really good against lefties."
• Roenicke had a good chat with outfielder Caleb Gindl after optioning him back to Triple-A on Friday to clear space for right-hander Tyler Thornburg. Gindl made a number of misplays in left field during his brief stay in the big leagues.
"Defensively, he did not play the type of defense that Gindl is capable of playing," Roenicke said. "I could see that right away. He is a good right fielder, he is learning how to play left field. It is not as easy as everybody thinks going from right to left … and when he made that first mistake, he really didn't play confident after that, and he was disappointed in that.
"I told him, 'I know what the feeling is when you make a mistake. You don't want to make another one, and instead of playing confident, you play to not make a mistake. You can never play well when you do that.'"
• Brewers players filled out their All-Star ballots on Saturday, which will help set the reserves and injury-replacement starters for the July 16 Midsummer Classic.