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Braun and Cueto latest additions to NL Central injured list

Updated: April 15, 2011 9:56AM

MESA, Ariz. — Nobody has played a game that counts, but the Cubs seem to be gaining on the National League Central’s top contenders every few days of spring training.

On Saturday alone, Brewers All-Star left fielder Ryan Braun left his game with a rib-cage injury, and Reds 12-game winner Johnny Cueto was diagnosed with stiffness in his biceps and forearm and ordered to rest until a follow-up exam Monday.

Braun’s injury didn’t immediately appear to be serious, but it’s an often-troublesome injury that easily can be aggravated. It comes after the Brewers already lost Cy Young pitcher Zack Greinke (cracked rib) for the opener and right fielder Corey Hart to another rib-cage strain.

All this after the Cardinals’ well-documented injuries, including 20-game winner Adam Wainwright’s season-ending elbow surgery.

‘‘It doesn’t mean anything,’’ Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez said. ‘‘At the same time it might. You never know. But we’ve still got to do our thing. We can’t worry about St. Louis or Milwaukee. They’re still good teams. [Milwaukee’s] going to miss Greinke. And they’re going to miss Braun. But we’ve still got to play our game. We’ve got to pitch and play defense and score runs.’’

Silva lining

Despite two two-run innings —each including changeups belted for home runs — Carlos Silva’s third start of the spring was his sharpest.

‘‘I know I can pitch; I know what I can do,’’ said Silva, who credited good communication with catcher Geovany Soto and between-starts mechanical work. ‘‘They’re going to make a decision [on the two rotation openings], but I’m not going to keep worrying about that.’’

Said Soto: ‘‘He might have still been working on stuff, but it felt like game time. .  .  . It resembled the way he started the [2010] season.’’

Spring straining

Todd Wellemeyer, fighting for one of two or three openings, is dealing with a recurring right hip strain caused by his follow-through. He had the hip wrapped but refused to blame it for his rough sixth inning.

‘‘It’s not an issue,’’ he said. ‘‘I had more of an up-in-the-zone issue.’’

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