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Ryan Braun may not be ready for Opening Day

The veteran’s nagging back aches could keep him out of the lineup to start the year

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers-Workouts Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel-USA TODAY NETWORK via Imagn Content Services, LLC

I’m not quite 36 years old yet, but I’m told just about everything hurts when you get out of bed in the morning.

With that in mind, it’s no surprise that Ryan Braun has been dealing with nagging aches and pains in his back, oblique and neck over the last few days. It’s kept him out of the lineup during the Brewers’ series of intra-squad games over the last week, and now manager Craig Counsell says it may keep him out of games that count.

With the NL playing under DH rules this year, the assumption was that Braun would be taking most of those at-bats, given the offseason signings of Avisail Garcia and Justin Smoak.

If Braun can’t go, it’s possible we could see Logan Morrison step into that DH spot on Opening Day at Wrigley Field on Friday, especially considering the Chicago Cubs will be starting right-hander Kyle Hendricks that day. Keston Hiura could also serve as the DH if his throwing arm continues to be a concern.

The hope was the DH spot and a shortened season would help keep Braun healthy (or at least healthier, considering the maintenance he’s needed throughout a 162-game season), but this is a good reminder that those aches and pains can still crop up, even if he isn’t playing in the field.

Luckily, the Brewers have plenty of outfield and corner infield depth to cover if Braun ends up having to miss more than the first few days of the season.