Pain-free Braun homers in Brewers' loss to Padres
PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) Ryan Braun went 2 for 3, hit his third home run of the spring and declared he's regained his swing as the Milwaukee Brewers lost to the San Diego Padres 6-5 on Thursday.
Braun doubled in the fourth and hit a solo home run off Jason Lane an inning later, leaving him at .361 this spring.
Braun returned from a 65-game drug suspension in 2013 to hit a career-low .266 last season as he played through a right thumb injury that he said didn't allow him to keep the top hand on the bat.
''We're in an era where offense is increasingly challenging and I think the two most important things as a hitter are your eyes and your hands,'' Braun said. ''Certainly, it feels good to be in a place where I'm healthy and I can take a regular swing.''
Jonathan Lucroy also homered for the Brewers, while Matt Garza gave up four runs and eight hits in three innings.
Matt Kemp finished his strong spring with two more hits and Tyson Ross threw three scoreless innings for the Padres in their Cactus League finale.
Kemp is hitting .370 as he prepares for the season opener against his former team, the Los Angeles, Dodgers, on Monday.
Brewers: Garza struck out six and was happy despite the results. The reason: he's regained a pitch that went missing a year ago.
''Now I have my slider again and it's like, `Yay, new toy!''' Garza said. ''I feel confident.''
Padres: Ross allowed two hits and worked out of a third-inning jam in his last appearance before he starts San Diego's second game against the Dodgers. He finished with a 2.49 spring ERA.
''This guy was an All-Star pitcher a year ago,'' manager Bud Black said, ''and he continues to grow.''
Brewers: RHP Jim Henderson (shoulder) was to pitch in a minor league game. A decision on whether he'll start the season on the disabled list will be made this weekend.
Padres: Wil Myers (illness) started in center and went 0 for 4. ... RHP Josh Johnson, recovering from elbow surgery, is targeting a May minor league rehab start.
Veteran reliever Jose Valverde was granted his release after the Padres informed the right-hander he wouldn't make the opening-day roster.
The 37-year-old Valverde said he would return to his native Dominican Republic. The three-time All-Star is hopeful he'll get an offer from another team soon.
''Who will sign the old guy?'' Valverde said, smiling.
Black said Valverde, who has 288 career saves, has a Triple-A invitation if he doesn't get a big league job.
The Padres also sent left-hander Chris Rearick to minor league camp.
BREWERS SET ROSTER
Hours after learning he made Milwaukee's 25-man roster, outfielder Logan Schafer led off and went 2 for 3.
Milwaukee sent utility player Elian Herrera to minor league camp, giving the last spot to Schafer.
The Brewers also traded minor league first baseman Hunter Morris to Pittsburgh for a player to be named.
Black confirmed after James Shields and Ross start the first two games, Andrew Cashner will pitch against the Dodgers on April 8. Ian Kennedy starts the home opener the next day against San Francisco.
Black wasn't ready to announce whether Brandon Morrow or Odrisamer Despaigne will be the fifth starter.
Braun is hopeful the Brewers will contend in the difficult NL Central with their homegrown team.
''We'll always be in a position where we'll have to be dependent on our system to develop guys,'' he said. ''Obviously, we can't go out there and spend $15-20 million to get a No. 1 or 2 starter. So you hope you have enough depth.''
Brewers: RHP Wily Peralta starts Friday against Cleveland.
Padres: After an off day, Kennedy starts Saturday's exhibition against the Mexico City Red Devils at Petco Park.