Ryan Braun healthy, anxious to get back to playing with Milwaukee Brewers

Ryan Braun

MILWAUKEE — The biggest problem that Ryan Braun has had this winter has been a lack of sleep.

Life has changed for the Milwaukee Brewers slugger after his wife, Larisa, gave birth to the couple’s second child in September.

Otherwise, Braun said he feels as fit as he has been in years after not having to worry about back surgery or treatment for a thumb injury in the offseason. He is anxious to get to spring training next month.

“That second kid is a game-changer. We’re going on four or five hours of sleep most nights, but two hours at a time tops so that aspect of it has been fun but challenging,” Braun said Sunday at the “Brewers On Deck” winter fan event.

Braun is by far the most recognizable player left on a club in the midst of a rebuilding project. At age 33, he heads into spring training as the elder statesman, coming off a productive season in which he hit .305 with 30 homers and 91 RBIs.

Two offseasons ago, Braun had a procedure to fix a nerve issue near his right thumb. A year later, he had back surgery.

This time, about the biggest baseball-related issue for Braun has been the speculation about whether the Brewers might finally trade him. Braun is in the second year of a five-year extension that will pay him $20 million this season.

“I’ve dealt with (trade rumors) for a little while now so it’s really not a big deal to me,” Braun said. “Obviously, I love Milwaukee, my family loves Milwaukee. If we didn’t, we would already be out of here.”

The rebuild around him seems to be moving along on schedule.

Milwaukee won 73 games last year, a five-game improvement from 2015. The first potential piece of the team’s future core arrived in the majors in August in shortstop prospect Orlando Arcia.

Craig Counsell, going into his second full season as manager, has a roster with more versatility, including the newly acquired Travis Shaw from the Boston Red Sox.