3/5/2014 8:21 P.M. ET
Braun downplays importance of hot start
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
PHOENIX -- Ryan Braun is off to a blistering start, but still believes Spring Training statistics don't matter one bit.
"Of course they don't matter," Braun said Wednesday. "Whether I'm 0-for-7 or 7-for-7, it makes no difference. You can't take them with you into the season."
For the record, Braun is 6-for-7 in his first four Cactus League games, and has reached safely in eight of nine plate appearances. Last week, he homered against A's left-hander Tommy Milone in Braun's first plate appearance since he was suspended. On Wednesday, he singled in the first inning and took A's right-hander Jarrod Parker deep leading off the fourth.
In a small sample, Braun is batting .857 so far, with an .889 on-base percentage and a 1.857 slugging percentage.
"He's just one of those gifted guys that can sit out a long time, and he doesn't need a lot of at-bats in Spring Training, and he can hit," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "I can remember Garret Anderson being out on the [disabled list] and coming back and getting three hits. I don't know if it's just hand-eye coordination, if it's their confidence. It's probably a combination, but they're not like everybody else. They don't struggle so much."
Asked whether he was always a fast starter, Braun said, "Not necessarily, and every year is a bit different. I pride myself on coming to Spring Training in good shape, physically, so that I'm ready to go out there and compete and hopefully perform. But other than that, I don't really remember Spring Training, to be honest with you."
It helps that Braun has remained reasonably healthy so far. Before he was suspended last season, he was bothered by a painful bruise near his right thumb, the result of being jammed by opposing pitchers. Braun worked with Brewers medical staffers on ways to pad his hand, but did not like any of the options.
"I still get treatment or ice it or do what I can to protect it a little bit," he said. "But anything that inhibits my typical swing, I strongly dislike. We tried a lot of different things last year and I never really got comfortable with any of them, so I just said I'm not doing anything this year, and hope for the best."
How did his hand feel Wednesday?
"Not bad," Braun said. "It's OK."
Roenicke said he is not worried.
"I'm not trying to worry about stuff with him," he said. "[Braun] has to do what he does. I couldn't have anything on the bat. I hated to wear batting glove. It's a certain feel, and he wants that feel. You try to alter it and do certain things, and all of a sudden it isn't right."
Gallardo features curve against A's
PHOENIX -- The star of Yovani Gallardo's 2 2/3-inning outing against the A's on Wednesday was his curveball, a pitch the right-hander wants to use more this season. In his previous spring start, Gallardo threw mostly fastballs and changeups.
"I threw a great amount of curveballs early in the count for first-pitch strikes," Gallardo said. "That's something that I'm going to try to work on this year and get more consistent with. Today was good. I buried it with two strikes whenever I needed to for a put-away pitch."
He also threw sliders, two-seam sinkers, and spotted his four-seam fastball low and away against many of Oakland's left-handed hitters. Gallardo was charged with one run on three hits in 2 2/3 innings, with a walk and four strikeouts. The run came on a Michael Taylor homer in the second inning.
Only 29 of Gallardo's 49 pitches were strikes, but everything felt like it was working.
"I'm trying to mix everything in," Gallardo said. "I'm trying to get the feel for everything."
Manager Ron Roenicke has still not named an Opening Day starter, but as of Wednesday the order went Gallardo, Kyle Lohse, Matt Garza, Marco Estrada and Wily Peralta.
"You can look at it that way," Roenicke said. "We can do a lot of things. We have off-days coming up, so I haven't set who's going Opening Day yet."
When might he set it?
"A week or so," Roenicke said "I want to make sure I talk to all the starting pitchers first before I announce who's going to go when. And things change so much. A guy stubs his toe or something, you've got to set him back."
• Roenicke said non-roster catcher Robinzon Diaz was game-ready. He has been brought along slowly after breaking a hand in the Dominican Winter League.
• Left-hander Tom Gorzelanny, recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, played catch on flat ground from 110 feet Wednesday and reported feeling good, Roenicke said. Gorzelanny remains on schedule for Opening Day.
• Reliever Francisco Rodriguez threw a bullpen session Tuesday with no issues. He was delayed in reporting to camp while acquiring a work visa.
"I don't know how many outings we'll be able to get him, whether it's five, seven," Roenicke said. "I don't think Frankie needs probably the same as some of the younger guys."
• Non-roster outfielder Mitch Haniger collected two more hits Wednesday, walked, stole a base and scored a run. In four Cactus League games, he's batting .571 (4-for-7) with a home run, five RBIs and three runs scored."