Braun feasting on the road
Ryan Braun knows he's going to be booed at every stop on the road this season for the Milwaukee Brewers, some places louder than others.
But, according to manager Ron Roenicke, boo the Brewers' embattled star at your own risk.
“At times, it certainly drives him,” Roenicke said Tuesday night after Braun whacked three home runs and drove in seven runs in a 10-4 romp over Philadelphia.
“There's no question about that. He's a special hitter. Those guys, when they turn it up, they turn it up.
“I was with the Angels (as a coach) a few years back and we let Jose Guillen go. And there were some kind of negative things along with that. And every time he came back in town, our fans would boo him. And every time they'd boo him, he got a huge hit. And I was just like, 'Leave him alone.'
“Really, it makes a difference. Those guys who can turn it up, you don't want to be messing with him. Here, definitely, it is rough. He's going to deal with this issue. There's no better way to quiet people up than doing what he's doing.”
During the Phillies' home opener, Braun definitely heard his share of boos—and then some. But it wasn't the first time that happened, and it won't be the last, so Braun said he just tries to channel that energy to his advantage.
“I dealt with it the last two years,” said Braun, who became a primary target of boo-birds by finally admitting to PED use during his 2011 MVP season and accepting a season-ending 65-game suspension in 2013.
“It's nothing new to me. I dealt with it in 2012 season. It's not anything that's really new to me or anything I haven't experienced before.
“I try to use it to my advantage. As a competitor, the more hostile the environment, the more enjoyable it can be. I just focus on things I can control. I focus every day on trying to be successful.”
If the booing actually fuels Braun, he was asked if he'd like it to continue.
“I wouldn't say that I want it, if it's my choice,” he said with a smile. “But I don't know that I have much of a say in the way fans are going to react. So, I might as well make the best of it and use it to my advantage and use it as motivation.”
No matter how motivated he was in Boston, Braun struggled at the plate because a chronic right thumb issue flared up. But, with a change in the padding in his batting glove and an adjustment in his stride at the plate, he produced the second three-homer game of his career against Philly.
“I've dealt with it for a while,” said Braun, who had no homers or RBI before his big game against the Phillies. “There's some ebb and flow, good and bad. I'm optimistic and hopeful that eventually we'll figure something out that makes a difference, but I've dealt with it for a while.
“The longer you deal with any injury, the easier it becomes to find a way to compensate. So, hopefully I'll find a swing that I'm comfortable with.”
That's the hope of everyone with the Brewers, because a productive Braun makes a deep lineup considerably more dangerous.
“Everybody knows he's been struggling with this,” said Roenicke. “When that power shows up again, it's a relief for all of us because this guy is important for us in our lineup.”