PHOENIX (AP) — Ryan Braun already is seeing a difference in his swing this spring.
The longtime Milwaukee Brewers star was the designated hitter in his exhibition debut, going 1 for 3 on Friday against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
“He’s made some swing changes and made an attempt to tweak some little things and try to get in the zone a little bit sooner,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “He’s been really pleased with the results, the batting practice results. Now he has to take it into the game and get some results. He had a good day. It’s nice to get the first hit.”
Braun has noticed the ball is carrying more during batting practice and it’s not just because of the dry Arizona weather.
“We’ll see how it translates to game action,” Braun said. “Obviously, I’ve taken batting practice on the same field out here for a long time and the ball is carrying significantly further than it has in a long time, maybe ever. I’m very encouraged by what I’ve seen so far and how I’ve felt so far.”
The Brewers aren’t counting on Braun to duplicate his NL MVP season in 2011 when he batted .332 and hit 33 home runs with 111 RBIs. On Friday, Travis Shaw provided the power with a pair of home runs off Arizona’s Zack Godley.
Last season, his 12th in the big leagues, Braun batted .254 with 20 home runs and 64 RBIs. Friday was his first in-game test on the changes and it’s still too early for him to gauge whether the changes will make a difference.
“It’ll take 15, 20 at-bats I’m sure before I’ll be at a place I can judge it,” Braun said. “In (batting practice), it feels good and I feel like I’m able to repeat the subtle changes and subtle differences I was trying to make in my swing. It’s too early to really judge how it feels in a game. I felt good today, first day. I felt I was staying on offspeed pitches for the most part. We’ll see in a week, week and a half where it’s at. I’m very confident it will make me a better hitter.”
The plan is to have the 35-year-old Braun play in the Brewers’ home games rather than travel this spring. He’s expected to start in left field on Sunday.
“It’s easier to play here than have to sit in a car sometimes for an hour and then get out and go play in games,” said Braun, who has dealt with back problems in the past.
NOTES: Jimmy Nelson, who is coming back from right shoulder surgery, will pitch one inning on Monday. … Reliever Jeremy Jeffress, sidelined with right shoulder weakness, will continue his strengthening program over the weekend. … Shaw said he has been seeing the ball well and took a slightly different approach in Friday’s game. “I just tried to be a little more aggressive on pitches in the zone,” Shaw said. “It feels good right now but there are still some things I’m working on and trying to get better at.”