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Braun looks to get back in groove

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Tom Haudricourt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
March 17, 2012
— Milwaukee Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said Friday that Ryan Braun’s slow start this spring is likely related to his tumultuous winter and said his star left fielder might start playing more soon to find his hitting stroke and get ready for the season.

Roenicke has been playing Braun every other day—he was off Friday—and giving him only a couple of at-bats per game. Braun has been off at the plate with just one hit, a home run, in 13 at-bats (.077).


Roenicke played Braun sparingly at the start of camp last spring also, but Braun was swinging the bat well and


didn’t need extra at-bats. He is scheduled to play his first game away from Maryvale Baseball Park today when the Brewers play the Los Angeles Angels in Tempe.


Roenicke believes Braun’s early struggles are related to a difficult winter in which a positive drug test and eventual successful appeal of a 50-game suspension played out publicly after the news leaked to the media.


“He has already talked about (playing more),” said Roenicke. “We’re trying to get him ready for opening day. This year is a little bit different than last year. Last year, he was good early. Right now, he’s trying to find out. I don’t think necessarily having him out there every day, grinding it, is the right way to go about it. It may come to that.


“Mentally, this camp is different for him this year. He’s always had these nice, restful offseasons and he’s come into camp ready to get after it. He hasn’t been able to do that. So, he’s coming into camp and he’s still trying to find some things.”


Roenicke noted that third baseman Aramis Ramirez recently asked to play more after a slow start and he expects Braun to do likewise. But Roenicke said he has seen no outward signs that Braun is in a mental funk.


“No, he’s not out of sorts. He’s not out of sorts at all,” said Roenicke.


“Either he’ll come to me or I’ll come to him and we’ll decide what he needs and what he thinks will work. We talked about extra BP, but some guys it works really well and some guys it harms. I don’t know why.


“I think one game can get him locked in. I think it can be that easy for him.”


Marcum could miss start

Roenicke said there is a chance right-hander Shaun Marcum could miss his first start of the regular season, depending on how he responds after returning to action from shoulder inflammation.


Marcum threw his second bullpen session Friday since receiving an injection in the shoulder and experienced no discomfort, so his next step is pitching live batting practice Sunday. How he fares will determine the next step, said Roenicke.


“Every time he’s out there and looks good, we’ll move on with the plan from there,” said Roenicke.


Asked if he might have to use Marco Estrada to fill in for Marcum the first time through the rotation, Roenicke said, “We may. The days are getting short.


“If Marcum stays on schedule, his pitch count would not be up there that high again (as last spring, when he fell behind). He can pitch that way and he can give us whatever it’s going to be - five or six innings.


“So, we’ll have to look at what we think is more important. We certainly don’t want to push him to make that first start. We’re at a time where we’ll see how it goes. Estrada is being stretched out (Friday in a start against Seattle) down in Tucson, so we’ll see.”


If Marcum is able to get three starts in before the end of camp, Roenicke said, “He’ll be at a pitch count where I would still be OK with him throwing. He’ll be at 75 pitches, something like that.”



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