MILWAUKEE -- One big bat returned to the Brewers' lineup Tuesday as another hit the 15-day disabled list.
The returnee was right fielder Ryan Braun, who was back in the starting lineup and played the first six innings against the Pirates before making a planned exit, his first game action since April 26, when he exited with a right rib cage strain. Braun took the roster spot vacated by cleanup hitter Aramis Ramirez, who was placed on the DL with a strained left hamstring.
"It's nice to have one of them in there," manager Ron Roenicke said. "When both of them are out, the interesting part is being there before games trying to figure out a lineup."
The Brewers also recalled switch-hitting utility man Elian Herrera from Triple-A Nashville and optioned outfielder Caleb Gindl. Herrera's defensive versatility could come in handy this week, as could his right-handed bat against left-handed Pirates pitchers on Wednesday and Thursday.
The Brewers offered no timetable for Ramirez's return, and Ramirez himself declined to venture a guess because this is the first hamstring injury of his career. Braun's return mitigated that loss; he was hitting .375 with three home runs and eight RBIs in the 10 games immediately prior to his injury, and entered the night batting .367 this season and .322 in his career against Pittsburgh.
"As long as I didn't have any setbacks or feel like I was headed in the wrong direction, the plan all along was for me hopefully to be back today," Braun said. "I'm excited to be back. It feels like it's been a long time."
He and club officials debated a one-game Minor League rehab assignment, but weather worries up the road at Class A Wisconsin and travel challenges elsewhere got in the way. Braun instead reported to Miller Park on Monday for treatment while the rest of the team was off.
"I came in, got treatment, went through all my stuff, and had some open and honest dialogue about how I was feeling and how it was responding," Braun said. "I think as long as yesterday it felt good enough to play, the plan was to play today. We had discussed possibly doing a rehab game [Tuesday] and being activated [Wednesday], but I feel like I'm ready."
Does his sudden return represent a risk?
"I don't think so," Braun said. "I don't know that playing one game and getting three at-bats would have necessarily done anything. If I was going down there and I was scheduled to play two or three games, that's a different situation. I was literally just going to go for a game, maybe five innings, seven innings, something like that.
"It's not hard [to adjust to live pitching]. In Spring Training, I hadn't seen live pitching in seven months and I think I went 8-for-9 with three homers or something. I'll be OK."
Appeal still pending, Gomez leaves with back tightness
MILWAUKEE -- A friend of Carlos Gomez's called early Tuesday from a New York area code, and Gomez thought, "Oh, here we go." He figured Major League Baseball had issued a ruling on his three-game suspension.
Instead, it was just a friendly call, and Gomez went about the rest of his day like any other. His appeal still pending, Gomez batted leadoff as usual in a rematch against Gerrit Cole and the Pirates and went 0-for-1 with a walk and was a hit by pitch before exiting the game in the top of the sixth inning with lower back tightness.
"'Gomey woke up yesterday with a tight lower back," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said following his team's 5-2 win. "[Batting practice] was tough for him today to swing. He wanted to play so we had him out there, but it didn't get any better."
Roenicke characterized Gomez's condition as day to day.
Regarding his suspension, the longer the wait goes on, the more optimistic Gomez becomes about a reduced ban.
"Sure," he said. "If they go right away, it's because that's it. If they're waiting, it's because they're trying to find the fair [outcome] for both sides. I'm still waiting and praying every single day."
Gomez was suspended for his role in the teams' April 20 dust-up at PNC Park. He made his appeal via video conference on Friday, and the Brewers anticipated an answer from MLB on Monday or Tuesday. A league spokesperson said Tuesday evening that the matter was still being deliberated.
Was Brewers manager Ron Roenicke surprised by the extended timeline?
"Not surprised, no," Roenicke said. "The [league official] making decisions on it, he needs to gather information on the precedents of what's happened in the past. And Gomez, too, a second offense comes into it. I think they're trying to figure out what to do with it."
In his appeal, Gomez blamed Pirates outfielder Travis Snider, one of the other players suspended, for escalating a verbal argument into a physical altercation.
But the two ran into each other Monday night at a downtown Milwaukee steakhouse and smoothed things over.
"There's no hard feelings. We're all professionals," Gomez said. "Yesterday, I had the opportunity to see Snider personally. We shook hands and he gave me a hug, and everything is good. There's no hard feelings. It's part of the game. We all understand. We're professionals. Whatever happened on the field stays on the field. … Like I said before, we don't want any player to get hurt from stuff like that. When this happened, it's just a lot of emotion and adrenaline. It's not fun, but it's part of the game and you deal with it."
Asked how he was feeling, Gomez said before the game, "Sore, but I'm in the lineup today, so it's good."
He will be re-evaluated again on Wednesday before the series continues.
Hot-hitting Herrera rejoins Brewers
MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers added a red-hot hitter Tuesday in utility man Elian Herrera, who went 18-for-38 in the 10 games at Triple-A Nashville between his stints with the Brewers. He credited a mechanical adjustment involving his hands.
"I found it here," he said, pointing toward Miller Park's video room. "I used it before, but sometimes we just forget, sometimes we just lose it. I was watching video [from 2012], when everything was working, watching everything with my batting and then trying things in the cage."
Versatility brought Herrera back to the big leagues. Aramis Ramirez's hamstring injury created a need on the infield, and he could also come in handy in the outfield Wednesday and Thursday, when the Brewers will stack the lineup with right-handed hitters against Pirates left-handers Francisco Liriano and Wandy Rodriguez.
The trick for Herrera will be staying hot at the plate.
"The main thing is to keep doing the same, not try to do too much," he said. "We always want to do more. You just have to play the game. It's easy to say but not easy to [do]."
Left-hander Tom Gorzelanny will begin a 30-day Minor League rehabilitation assignment on Wednesday at Class A Advanced Brevard County, the Brewers said. They often send rehabbing pitchers to the warm-weather Florida State League. Gorzelanny is working back from a December surgery to repair his left rotator cuff and labrum.