Notes: Braun ready for left-field action
Brewers star tired of discussing move away from third base
MILWAUKEE -- Reigning National League Rookie of the Year Ryan Braun, whose move from third base to left field made just as much news over the weekend as the team's acquisition of outfielder Mike Cameron, is tired of talking about his new position and ready to play it."To be honest, it does get a little old answering the questions," said Braun, who did just that on Tuesday when he mingled with hundreds of fans at the team's annual Winter Warm-Up. "I just keep giving the same answer." The answer is that Braun supports the switch and says he's ready to make the transition when position players report to Spring Training next month. The acquisition of three-time Gold Glove winner Cameron prompted the team to move center fielder Bill Hall to third base and Braun to left. Braun is coming off a fabulous first season in which he belted 34 home runs, but he also tied for the Major League lead with 26 errors despite playing just 112 games. "There's no question this makes us a better team," Braun said Tuesday in Miller Park's Gehl Club, one of the venues in which a number of players chatted with a crowd of fans dominated by season-seat holders. "Defense was certainly one of our weaknesses as a team last year, and this addresses that issue and improves the ballclub. I'm all for it." Braun appreciated that general manager Doug Melvin reached out last week before news broke of the Cameron signing. There had been dialogue between Braun, Melvin and manager Ned Yost over the past two months about a potential switch, and Braun said he had already been working with an outfielder's glove. In fact, Braun was taking ground balls at Pepperdine University near Los Angeles when Melvin left a voicemail. After returning the call and learning of the team's plans, Braun grabbed his outfield glove and started taking fly balls. "More than anything, I'm excited that it got done early and I have a chance to take some fly balls before Spring Training," Braun said. "[The outfield glove] is not broke in yet, but it will get there. I feel like I'm a good enough athlete and have a good enough work ethic to make the transition pretty easily." Making changes: If any of the several hundred fans who attended Tuesday's Winter Warm-Up wandered around Miller Park, they got a sneak peek at some of the new features for 2008. Billing them as "enhancements to the Miller Park experience," the Brewers announced details about an 8,000-square-foot interactive area for children and a second merchandise store on the field level, plus a new name for what was called the .300 Club on the ballpark's club level. The Metavante Club played host to Tuesday's event. Ballpark improvements have become a team priority, especially since Mark Attanasio stepped in as principal owner three years ago. "It was a convergence of Mark becoming the owner, the Brewers generating enough revenue so we can afford these improvements and the ballpark getting a year older," said Rick Schlesinger, the team's executive vice president of business operations. "You have to think of things to keep it fresh and exciting and state of the art. Maybe in 2001, 2002 or 2003, you didn't have a sense of urgency up upgrade things. Now that we're seven or eight years in, with a lot of other new ballparks coming online, there is a sense that we need to constantly invest revenues not only into the players, but into the experience." The new team store is a 3,100-square-foot facility situated near the home-plate gate that will specialize in authenticated items and game-used products. The Brewers Fan Zone Store in the Hot Corner in the left-field corner will remain open during its normal store hours, while the new "Home Plate Team Store" will be open for business only during Brewers home games. Along the field level concourse in the right-field corner, the "Associated Bank Kids Zone" will offer numerous free activities including a batting cage, a pitching cage, a replica of Bernie Brewer's slide and clubhouse, plus an interactive game with replicas of the Klement's Racing Sausages. In addition to some photo opportunities, young fans can create their own baseball card for a fee. The purpose of the Metavante Club remains the same, but its look eventually will be different, Schlesinger said. Plans include updating the decor of the space and moving the horseshoe-shaped bar that remains near the entrance. "It will allow the area to be much more open when you walk in," Schlesinger said. "There will be much less of a pinch-point for people trying to get to their tables for dinner. It will be a brighter, much more contemporary space." The membership-only restaurant and bar has seating up to 300 people and will be available for meetings, parties and other functions during the offseason. Fans purchasing a minimum of two full-season-seat plans in most locations receive an in-season membership to the Metavante Club as an included benefit, while other fans may join for a $500 seasonal fee. Potential future projects include an upgraded scoreboard system with a new, high-definition screen, and renovations to the suites. Those initiatives are in the research stage, Schlesinger said. "At some point, we'll run out of space," Schlesinger said of the various ballpark improvements. "In some ways, that's a good problem to have, because it means the demand is there for the things and we're coming up with creative ways to do it." Roster move: The Brewers designated outfielder Drew Anderson for assignment to clear a 40-man roster spot for Cameron. Anderson, 26, was 1-for-9 in nine games with the Brewers last season and spent most of the year at Triple-A Nashville, where he hit .273 in 108 games with four homers, 28 doubles and three triples. Promotions: The Brewers on Tuesday added "vice president" to the job titles of assistant GM Gord Ash and amateur scouting director Jack Zduriencik. Ash's title is now vice president -- assistant general manager and Zduriencik's is vice president -- special assistant to the general manager for player personnel.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.