Ryan Braun lets fan keep bat from his spring training debut
PHOENIX (AP) Ryan Braun bat traveled farther than any ball he put in play during his spring training debut.
Braun struck out swinging and walked Friday, and he lost the grip on his bat during his fourth-inning at-bat. The bat wound up in the hands of a fan who tumbled over the railing behind third base, and Braun let the fan keep the lumber.
''If somebody ever deserved a bat, that's an incredible effort. He earned that,'' Braun said.
Braun spent four innings in left field for Milwaukee during an exhibition game against the Chicago White Sox, and his father looked on.
''Results, obviously, in spring don't really matter,'' Braun said, ''but just continuing to come out every day and feel like I'm getting closer and closer to where I want to be. Three weeks away, so still plenty of time.''
In the past, Braun delayed appearing in spring training games because of his recovery from injuries. While he is healthy this year, he is sticking with that routine. He thinks he needs about 25-30 at-bats.
''Listen to the body. See how I'm seeing the ball, what the approach feels like, make sure I get different balls in the outfield defensively that I feel like I need to get, hopefully make a couple of throws, do some first-to-thirds,'' Braun said. ''All of those things I kind of want to get out of the way. Depending on how fast all of those things happen and how good I feel, we'll just figure it out as we go.''
Braun plans to be back in the lineup on Saturday against San Diego.
''He saw a bunch of pitches and chased down a bunch of foul balls hit to left field,'' Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. ''Just a normal day.''
Braun played in 135 games last season, matching his 2014 total and down five from 2015. He hit .305 last season, his highest batting average in four years, and had 30 homers and 91 RBIs.
''We're here for a long time - as everybody knows, way too long for position players,'' Braun said. ''So there's no reason to get extra at-bats and play extra games just for the purpose of doing it. At some point I tried to get a few less at-bats, play a few less innings and see how I felt, and I felt a lot better to start the season.''
The 33-year-old is signed through 2020, and Milwaukee has an option for 2021. Braun doesn't plan on playing 10 more years.
''I think I could do it, I highly doubt I would have any interest in doing it,'' he said. ''But physically I think that I would be able to do it.''