Ryan Braun is doing his best to learn the intricacies of playing first base for the Milwaukee Brewers, but the transition isn’t easy for the long-time outfielder.
The Brewers, who added outfielders Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain in the offseason, hope he can become adept enough to split time between first base and left field.
He was back in left field for the Brewers in a 9-2 spring training win over the Colorado Rockies on Saturday. Afterward, he spoke about the learning curve at first base, where his other four Cactus League starts have come.
“I definitely don’t feel comfortable at all,” Braun said. “I’m doing the best I can with it. Guys have to make sacrifices. I think ultimately if we want to get to where we want to get as a team, based on the roster we’ve put together, it obviously helps make us a better team if I’m able to play multiple positions.”
He also says the strain on his back is a factor. Braun started out as a third baseman, winning Rookie of the Year there in 2007, but moved to the outfield the following season and has been there ever since.
He followed up that successful rookie campaign with five straight All-Star selections and an MVP award in 2011, when he hit 33 home runs, stole 33 bases, drove in 111 RBIs, scored 109 runs and posted an .997 OPS.
His numbers aren’t as lofty in recent years, but the Brewers can still use his powerful bat in the lineup — so long as his back can take it.
“So, generally, you’re putting your back in more vulnerable positions, which for me is a challenge. My back is the biggest thing health-wise I’ve focused on for a few years now. … I think in the long run I have no doubt first base would be easier. But to this point, it’s definitely been a lot harder on my back than the outfield was, so we’ll see,” Braun said.
–Field Level Media