Braun Ready after Hectic Spring
Next game: Wednesday, April 8th at San Francisco
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Milwaukee Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun said he's past the nagging injuries that slowed him this spring and is in peak condition for the season that opens Tuesday.
"I feel like I'm definitely ready. I feel better than I ever have physically (going into a season)," Braun said. "I'm seeing the ball really well, and I think this really has a chance to be a special year for me, and for the team."
Expectations weren't quite so high a few weeks ago.
Braun strained a muscle on the right side of his rib cage while playing for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic last month. He had injured the same side in August and missed six games.
Braun played in discomfort in a subsequent game, then returned to the Brewers once Team USA was eliminated.
Back in Phoenix, the 25-year-old received treatment for his side. He tried to play in Cactus League games but lingering discomfort caused him to miss a few more days.
He finally got back into games at the end of camp, only to take a line drive off his thumb. He suffered a bruise and missed one game.
But the 2007 National League rookie of the year, who hit .285 with 37 homers and 106 RBIs last year, said there's no need to worry. His ribcage is feeling fine now.
"I think people made a bigger deal of my injury than (needed)," Braun said. "People in general were more concerned about it than I was. I knew I was fine."
Even so, the injury raised fresh concerns about whether professional athletes should play games for their country, risking injuries that could hurt the teams that pay their salaries.
Braun discounted those concerns as well, saying he was grateful for the opportunity to play for the U.S.
"For me, I was fortunate that I got to do that," said Braun, who hit .381 with one home run and two RBI in six Classic games.
"But overall it was a great experience. The World Baseball Classic was unbelievable, something I enjoyed."
Now Braun has a new challenge -- facing the Giants and Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum on Tuesday. But he's confident his work in spring training will have him ready.
"I know how to prepare myself for the season," he said.
Information from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, http://www.jsonline.com
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)