Cain making most of big league camp
Brewers prospect called up with Braun gone, Gwynn ailing
PHOENIX -- Veteran Brewers center fielder Mike Cameron made sure the new guy knew his place.Cameron swiped a personalized Nike undershirt that belonged to newcomer Lorenzo Cain, a 22-year-old outfielder who has shot toward the top of Milwaukee's prospect list, and paraded it around the big league clubhouse at Maryvale Baseball Park on Thursday morning. The shirt was similar to the one worn by every player, except Cain's was emblazoned in big gold letters with, "LO CAIN," above the word, "MILWAUKEE."
"If this makes you feel like you've been playing for a long time," chided Cameron, who has made due with standard-issue gear, "then by all means, do it."It was all in good fun, of course. And Cain is about to have a whole lot of fun as a regular member of big league camp, added Wednesday to help populate an outfield corps thinned by Ryan Braun's participation in the World Baseball Classic and Tony Gwynn Jr.'s lingering shoulder injury. "This is where you want to be," Cain said. "I'm going to try to have fun and take the opportunity to get to know these guys, watch how they prepare for the game. I don't put a ton of pressure on myself." Cain, a 6-foot-2, 192-pound right-handed hitter and thrower, is a .295 hitter in four pro seasons since the Brewers selected him in the 17th round of the 2004 First-Year Player Draft. He played at three Minor League affiliates last season, including a brief stop at Triple-A Nashville, where he went 3-for-19 (.158) as an injury replacement. He excelled as a late addition to the Arizona Fall League, batting .333 with five home runs and 11 RBIs in 18 games. He learned about the promotion on Wednesday morning before he played -- and laid out for a spectacular diving catch -- in a Minor League intrasquad game. Cain has played in 20-25 big league Spring Training games over the years, including his first 2009 appearance on Tuesday, when he legged out a triple to left field against the Rockies. Cain might have played more this year, but he was slowed over the winter months by tendinitis in his right forearm. He built back arm strength with a throwing program and was cleared to play last week. Cain is suddenly the cream of the crop of outfielders in Milwaukee's farm system. The ranks were thinned with last summer's CC Sabathia trade, which cost the Brewers four players, including top outfield prospects Matt LaPorta and Michael Brantley. "We went from having a lot of outfield prospects to being down," Cain said. "That's a help to me, because it means I have a better chance to move up faster without worrying about the guys in front of me. It seems like [the organization] likes me a lot, and I just want to come out here and work hard and show them that I am ready to play."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.