Ryan Braun helped the Brewers kick-off the spring season with a win on Saturday, putting up a home run in his first at-bat of 2013. Managing the team’s only hit of the day off of Oakland A’s starter Jesse Chavez, the outfielder’s first inning bomb put Milwaukee ahead for all nine innings.
Braun was happy with the performance, even admiring at the length straight down the middle. Talking to reporters after the game, the career-dedicated Brewer said that with the power behind the ball on that homer, he knew he was at his best.
Proving a statement made before the game, Braun claimed he was in top shape earlier in the season than ever before. He attributed the advanced progress to efforts to prepare for next month’s World Baseball Classic, in which he will represent the United States as a starting fielder.
Manager Ron Roenicke was equally as impressed. The second year manager commented on Braun’s ability to get into high-gear faster than any player he has seen, even going so far as to say that the outfielder is simply capable of feats that others aren’t.
Roenicke was also pleased with his young starting shortstop Jean Segura, who put up the Brewers other run of the day with a ground-out RBI. At just twenty-three, Segura has spent nearly all of his time in the minors, playing in his first ever Cactus League game that day. Taking the place of the aging Alex Gonzalez, he will be expected to learn quickly during the spring.
The team’s young and inexperienced pitching corps also had a solid outing in their debut performance of the spring. Still competing for a spot in the rotation, right hander Mike Fiers got the start on Saturday, giving up a hit and a pair of walks over two innings. The young starter showed some nerves during the first, loading the bases on two outs, but recovered to escape any runs by striking out Chris Young to erase the threat. Holding the confidence during the Brewers at-bat, Fiers came back for a quick three-and-out second before ending his day.
Seven relievers held Oakland at bay following Fiers exit, including impressive final innings from Micheal Olmsted and Jesus Sanchez. The pair combined for three strikeouts in the eighth and ninth to maintain the win, as well as no hits. Santo Manzanillo gave up the team’s only run to the A’s, allowing an RBI-double to outfielder Shane Peterson.