03/17/12 7:46 PM ET
Hart ahead of schedule, but hurdles remain
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
Braun not concerned with struggles, reception
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Ryan Braun says he isn't about to start counting outs, or boo birds.Braun played his first spring road game on Saturday, going 0-for-2 with a walk and a slick sliding catch in foul ground during an 8-1 Brewers loss to the Angels at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Braun dropped to 1-for-15 so far this spring with a home run and three walks. Is 15 at-bats enough to draw any conclusions? "There's never a quantity of at-bats in Spring Training that would concern me, ever," Braun said. "Spring Training has never been result-oriented. It's always process-oriented. The process is certainly a little different this year. It's an adjustment I'll have to make."
This spring is different because Braun, after appealing a suspension over the winter, is under a spotlight brighter than the Arizona sunshine. He played before supportive crowds at Maryvale Baseball Park, but Saturday received a harsher reception on the road, even as an L.A. guy playing in front of Angels fans."I don't think anything of it," Braun said. "That's a story for you guys." Of Braun's progression, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said, "He's just a little bit off, but I think he's seeing the ball better." Next week, Braun will gradually begin to increase his workload. He said he plans to start back-to-back games for the first time on Monday and Tuesday -- both road games, including a Monday matchup with Yu Darvish and the Rangers in Surprise, Ariz. It's part of his process. "If I go 0-for-50 in Spring Training, I'm 100 percent confident I'll have success in the season. I'm serious," Braun said. "It's just a different intensity, different focus, energy, enthusiasm when you play regular-season games. It just is. "Of course, I want to have success. You always want to have success. But it's different."
Opportunity knocks for Braddock, Parra
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Left-hander Juan Perez's ill-timed health scare has created an opening for two other lefty relievers in Brewers camp. Now it's up to either Zack Braddock or Manny Parra to seize the opportunity."With the numbers, there's definitely an opportunity for one of the left-handers to be on our club," manager Ron Roenicke said. Both Braddock and Parra are returning from lost 2011 seasons. Braddock had a 7.27 ERA in 25 games and was shut down in July to be treated for a sleep disorder and other personal issues. Parra missed Spring Training with a back injury, then injured his elbow on a rehab assignment. He didn't pitch at all last season. Both have had mixed results this spring. Opponents are batting .308 against Braddock in three games. Parra, who is out of options, has been better, with seven strikeouts in five innings and a .286 opponents' average. Roenicke said both pitchers worked with a few miles per hour missing from their fastballs on Friday against the Royals. "Hopefully, with a week to go, somebody will lock in on stuff and command," Roenicke said. Assuming Shaun Marcum can shake a sore shoulder and start the season in the pitching rotation, the Brewers have two open bullpen spots for four leading candidates: left-handers Braddock and Parra and right-handers Tim Dillard and Mike Fiers. Dillard's stock skyrocketed on Friday when another out-of-options right-hander, Frankie De La Cruz, was claimed off waivers by the Cubs. That is not an exhaustive list; Mike McClendon has big league experience and is getting a look. Perez was impressive before a partially collapsed lung derailed his bid.
Outfielder Carlos Gomez suffered a cut to his left hand when he was caught stealing in the eighth inning Saturday. Manager Ron Roenicke was not sure in the moments after the team's 8-1 loss to the Angels whether it was anything to worry about.
Relievers John Axford and Francisco Rodriguez were both sharp in one-inning stints against the Angels. Each has allowed one earned run in five Cactus League innings.
Rain is in the forecast for the Phoenix area on Sunday, putting Zack Greinke's scheduled start against the Rangers and Shaun Marcum's live batting-practice session in some jeopardy. Both would probably work in Maryvale Baseball Park's covered batting cages in the event of bad weather.