Milwaukee Brewers’ Ryan Braun ready to work at becoming first baseman
PHOENIX — Ryan Braun has never been a fan of spring training, but he’ll have plenty of work to keep him busy this year.
The Milwaukee left fielder reported to camp Monday to prepare for his 12th big league season. And for the first time since his rookie campaign in 2007, he’ll be taking groundballs as the Brewers try to get him work at first base.
Moving Braun became an option when Milwaukee acquired outfielders Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich in January. Their additions created a logjam in an already-crowded outfield, so to help ease the situation, general manager David Stearns and manager Craig Counsell approached Braun about potentially playing first base.
With the Brewers trying to build off their surprising 2017 season that finished a victory short of the postseason, Braun embraced the opportunity.
“I don’t know exactly what the plan is yet as far as how often I’ll be at what position, but it’s definitely something I’m looking forward to,” Braun said. “If I can be more versatile, it’s something that should be help our team in a lot of different ways.”
Braun hasn’t played the infield since 2007, his first season in the majors. He was the NL Rookie of the Year after batting a team-best .324 with a league-leading .619 slugging percentage, but he committed 26 errors at third base and moved to left field the next season.
Save for a two-year stint in right field, Braun has been in left ever since.
“I don’t expect it to be easy by any means,” he said. “I expect it to be challenging.”
Calf and wrist injuries limited Braun to 105 games last season and his numbers dipped, too. He batted .268 with 17 home runs and 52 RBIs, down significantly from the .305/30/91 he produced a year earlier.