CHICAGO -- Shortstop Jean Segura remained sidelined with a deep left thigh bruise, but the Brewers received a much-needed boost Monday when left fielder Ryan Braun returned to the starting lineup after missing three games with a stiff neck.
He contributed three hits, a run scored and an RBI to the Brewers' 7-4 win over the Cubs.
As the Brewers took the field for batting practice, Braun, who had received treatment all morning, was still unsure of his availability. He took batting practice for the first time since his neck locked up during his second round of swings on Friday.
"I guess it took a little while to make sure," Braun said. "Obviously, I'm a little tentative and it's not 100 percent better, so I wanted to make sure I could get through multiple swings and throwing, fielding, all the things I needed to do to get in there and play."
Segura, though, was missing. He was injured in the third inning of Friday's loss to the D-backs when Gerardo Parra slid into second base to break up a double play and jammed his left knee into Segura's left thigh.
It was clear Monday that Segura was still in serious pain when he limped onto the field during introductions before the Cubs' home opener.
"Still sore," he said. "Hopefully it will be better [Tuesday]."
Segura was off to a terrific start, going 9-for-20 in his first six games. Luckily, the Brewers are stocked with three other shortstops: Alex Gonzalez, who started there Monday, Yuniesky Betancourt, who manned third for the injured Aramis Ramirez, and Josh Prince, who began his professional career at short but has since switched to a super-utility role.
Henderson temporarily replaces Axford as closer
CHICAGO -- For the second straight season, John Axford is temporarily out as the Brewers' closer.
Another Canadian right-hander, Jim Henderson, was called upon for the final three outs of the Brewers' tense, 7-4 win over the Cubs on Monday, and will proceed in that role while Axford tries to iron out the issues that produced his 20.25 ERA through three appearances.
"I told him that I want him to be our closer," Roenicke said. "How we think is the best way to get him back in that role is pretty much what we did with him last year -- put him back in wherever it's going to be: sixth [inning], seventh, maybe eighth, and let him get his stuff back.
"Once he gets his stuff back, we'd like him back in that role."
That is what happened last season after the Brewers removed Axford from the role in July. After he asked back into the position in August, he converted 17 of his final 18 save opportunities.
In three appearances this year, Axford has recorded eight outs and been charged with six runs on eight hits, including four home runs. He suffered a blown save on Dexter Fowler's two-out home run on Opening Day, surrendered two more Rockies homers two days later in a non-save situation and then pitched again Sunday with the Brewers and D-backs tied at 6.
Roenicke would have liked to remove Axford after a harrowing but scoreless 10th inning, but felt compelled to send him out for another inning. The bullpen, though eight men strong, was already taxed and left-hander Chris Narveson was sidelined by a sprained left middle finger that sent him to the 15-day disabled list on Monday evening.
It was in that second inning of work that Axford allowed a two-run home run to Arizona's Eric Hinske. It decided the Brewers' 8-7 loss, their fifth in a row.
Henderson, who helped snap the losing streak on Monday, believes Axford will reclaim his job again.
"I do," Henderson said. "He's a great pitcher, and just watching his outing, his stuff is still great. Similar to [Francisco Rodriguez] last year, the stuff is still there. He just needs to put it together consistently."
The switch appeared to represent a change of heart for Roenicke, who responded, "No, not at all," when asked if he was considering a change Sunday, after Axford surrendered a home run for the third straight outing. When asked Monday morning whether he would use Axford to close the Cubs' home opener, Roenicke had a different answer.
"I need to have a discussion with 'Ax' on what we plan to do," Roenicke said, "so I can't really give you an answer until I talk to him."
That discussion took place in left field during batting practice.
Narveson to DL pushes Hart to 60-day; Lalli brought up
CHICAGO -- The Brewers on Monday placed left-hander Chris Narveson on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained middle finger on his pitching hand and purchased the contract of catcher/first baseman Blake Lalli from Triple-A Nashville.
Lalli, however, is not on the 40-man roster, so Milwaukee will transfer Corey Hart to the 60-day DL, retroactive to March 31, to make room. As a result, Hart cannot be activated until May 30.
Because the team plans to use a series of upcoming off-days to skip No. 5 starter Mike Fiers, the Brewers chose a position player to take Narveson's spot on the 25-man roster. The move re-balances a roster that included 13 pitchers and 12 hitters on Opening Day, leaving manager Ron Roenicke extremely short on the bench after a spate of injuries.
The DL is the last place Narveson wanted to land. He made only two starts in 2012 before undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery.
"It's tough for him," Roenicke said. "You go through what he went through last year and all of a sudden you come back and get some, really a freak injury."
Narveson had been easing back into duty in a relief role. He took to Twitter on Monday night to describe the finger injury as a roadblock. "Unfortunately I sprained my middle finger while warming up my last outing on Saturday," Narveson tweeted. "Will come back stronger though."
Uecker, Brewers mourn loss of Haig
CHICAGO -- The Brewers and Hall of Fame broadcaster Bob Uecker on Monday were mourning the death of former team and WTMJ radio executive Bill Haig.
Haig, who served as Brewers vice president of broadcast operations from 1980 to his retirement in 1997, passed away Saturday at 78.
"Bill was really one of the giants in the world of Wisconsin radio," Uecker said in a statement. "Between the Brewers and WTMJ, everyone knew Bill and respected his contributions to the industry. He was a key member of the Brewers staff for so many years, but more importantly he was a good friend and family man. Our thoughts are with his wife, Naomi, their children, and all of Bill's family. He will be missed."
It was during Haig's tenure as general manager of WTMJ-AM 620 that the station became the Brewers' flagship. He was inducted to the Wisconsin Broadcasters Hall of Fame after retiring from the Brewers in 1997.