MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers placed third baseman Aramis Ramirez back on the 15-day disabled list Monday with a sprained left knee and replaced him on the active roster with left fielder Ryan Braun, whose return was originally planned for later in the week.
The plan changed when Ramirez experienced increased discomfort in a left knee that has bothered him since he returned in May from a month-long stint on the DL. Instead of easing Ramirez into the All-Star break, the Brewers opted to shut him down completely with a retroactive DL move that will make Ramirez eligible to return July 22 after missing only the Brewers' three-game series against the Marlins after the break.
Braun, who missed 22 games since June 9 because of an inflamed nerve in his right hand that produced pain while swinging the bat, was not in the starting lineup Monday but was available to pinch-hit.
Assuming no setbacks in batting practice, he expected to start Tuesday's game against the Reds and left-hander Tony Cingrani.
"It's exciting more than it is a relief," Braun said. "Being on the DL is not something I enjoyed. It definitely made me appreciate the last six years, having never spent time on the DL, because it's just a lot of long and boring days. I'm excited to be back, excited to be able to compete again and be able to contribute, hopefully, to some better baseball."
How close is he to 100 percent?
"It's not close to 100 percent, but we don't expect it to be close to 100 percent all year," Braun said. "So as long as it's good enough, I am thrilled about that."
Does he worry about doing further damage to his hand by playing with pain?
"I don't think it would do any good to have a negative mindset like that," Braun said. "I'm optimistic that we're in a good place. It's felt good the last few days, and that's what I anticipate moving forward."
Braun's return was accelerated dramatically beginning Tuesday at Nationals Park, where he swung a bat for the first time in a week and felt much less pain in his hand. He took more dry swings each of the subsequent two days, then took full batting practice for the first time on Saturday at Miller Park.
All of those sessions went well, giving Braun and the Brewers hope that he would beat an earlier timetable that had him sidelined through the All-Star break.
The only bad news was that the move cost the Brewers their cleanup hitter, Ramirez, whose production has sagged this season because of his balky left knee. He sprained it in Spring Training and missed two weeks, then sprained it again in the Brewers' fourth game of the season and missed a month.
Since his return, manager Ron Roenicke has closely monitored Ramirez's playing time to avoid setbacks. But Ramirez has developed some patellar tendinitis in the knee.
"That's starting to bark on him," Roenicke said. "We were going to go the days in Arizona and probably not play him [in the team's last series heading into the break]. We just thought this was a better way to do it."
Ramirez had some input on his playing schedule and so will Braun, but the final say belongs to Roenicke and the Brewers' athletic trainers, Braun said. The loose plan calls for him to start Tuesday, sit out Wednesday's day game, then play some of the Brewers' four games in Arizona in the final series of the first half.
Platoon over, Weeks again strugglng at plate
MILWAUKEE -- It has been an interesting hitting trend for Rickie Weeks this season. Weeks' early-season slump turned when Scooter Gennett was called up from Triple-A Nashville in early June, but his struggles resurfaced immediately after Gennett's return to Nashville on June 26.
In 14 games and 11 starts while platooning with Gennett at second base, Weeks had a slash line of .452/.511/.929, with five home runs and nine RBIs.
Since Gennett's departure from the big leagues, Weeks has a slash line of .162/.295/.243, with one home run and one RBI in 11 games entering Monday's game against the Reds. Weeks singled and doubled in his first two at-bats, finishing 2-for-3 with a walk in Monday's 4-3 victory over the Reds.
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said Monday that Scooter's presence did not light a fire under Weeks.
"It isn't Scooter pressing him," Roenicke said. "He started to swing the bat better when Scooter came up. Sometimes when you have another guy that's spelling you once in a while, physically you just feel so much better that you play better."
Weeks is hitting .225 with nine home runs and 20 RBIs this season. He is on pace to produce lesser numbers than his down year in 2012, a far cry from what he posted the previous two seasons. He was an All-Star selection in 2011.
"Some of it is probably -- as much as we think he can go out there every day -- some of it may be he was getting some days off every once in a while [while platooning with Gennett]," Roenicke said. "It's hard and it's grinding to go out there every day and play."
Peralta set to return to mound on Tuesday
MILWAUKEE -- Brewers right-hander Wily Peralta expects business as usual when he takes the mound against the Reds on Tuesday, seven days after a strained left hamstring cut short an excellent start against the Nationals.
The Brewers gave Peralta two extra days off as a precaution, and he reported no setbacks.
"I feel pretty good," Peralta said. "I've been running on the field. Did a couple of sprints today, and it feels 100 percent. I don't feel anything right now. It's going to be ready tomorrow."
In a season of wild inconsistencies, Peralta was at his best on Tuesday at Washington, dueling the Nats' Stephen Strasburg for six innings before the bad hamstring forced Peralta's exit. He said later that he had been feeling tightness since the third inning.
Peralta promised to be honest with the medical staff when he returns to action on Tuesday.
"If I don't tell them, it's going to be worse if we keep pushing it," he said. "But so far, I don't feel anything. I feel 100 percent right now."
Francisco back at third after tough Sunday
MILWAUKEE -- Juan Francisco was penciled in at third base and hit fifth for the Brewers on Monday, a day after making two throwing errors that led to two unearned runs in Sunday's 2-1 loss to the Mets.
Francisco, acquired from the Braves on June 3, is naturally a third baseman, but has played mostly first base since joining the Brewers. Francisco had four errors in three games at third base with the Brewers before Monday.
Manager Ron Roenicke says it is unfair to judge Francisco on the small sample size at the hot corner.
"We do need to see what he can do," Roenicke said. "To go out there and to judge a guy on a couple games, I don't think it's fair."
Francisco has hit .235 with six home runs and 15 RBIs in 27 games and 85 at-bats since joining the Brewers.
With Aramis Ramirez placed on the 15-day disabled list Monday, Francisco figures to see more time at third base in the Brewers' final two series before the All-Star break.
But is Francisco a bounce-back type player?
"I think he is," Roenicke said. "I think if he wasn't, the ground ball right at him that he made the throw over, then the next slow roller that he made the play on, I don't think he would've made those."
• In his weekly segment with Triple-A Nashville play-by-play man Jeff Hem, Sounds manager Mike Guerrero said right-hander Hiram Burgos exited Sunday's start after 52 pitches because of "some shoulder discomfort." Burgos has spent more than a month on the Brewers' disabled list with shoulder issues and was making his fourth start for Nashville.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. Kevin Massoth is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.