MILWAUKEE -- Chris Carter's new teammates saw the big body, the big home run totals and the big strikeout counts and figured they knew what to expect when Carter started swinging the bat in Spring Training.
The reality, however, has surprised some.
"It's not too often a big guy like him has such a short, compact swing," veteran third baseman Aaron Hill said. "I don't want to say he's perfected it, but he's done a great job of knowing his strength. He continues to get better and wants to get better. It will be fun to see what he's able to do this year with a new team."
Carter had a breakthrough game for his new team on Wednesday, powering a low-effort solo home run in the third inning and lifting a two-strike go-ahead sacrifice fly in the seventh for a 4-3 Brewers win over the Giants at Miller Park.
With the win, the Brewers avoided an 0-3 start.
"I think we can all just relax a little bit and go back to playing normal," Carter said. "We don't have to worry about those first couple games. We're past that now."
Carter, long known as a low average, high strikeout, huge power player, has professed a "keep it simple" approach since arriving in February. He was Brewers GM David Stearns' only Major League free agent acquisition; brought in to man first base and provide power to a lineup that sagged in that category last season.
The Brewers ranked ninth of 15 National League teams in 2015 with 145 home runs. It was the first time since 2004 -- pre-Prince Fielder -- that Milwaukee did not rank in the top half of the league in that category. The Brewers were 12th in the NL last season with 22 home runs from their first baseman.
Carter, who hit 24 homers for Houston during a down year last season, and 37 home runs in 2014, should help boost that total for the Brewers. Wednesday's opposite-field home run off Giants starter Jeff Samardzija marked a start.
"I don't think anyone has easy power like that, really," manager Craig Counsell said. "It is special. You don't feel like he has to really get a ball to get it out of the park. It was just a good swing. He took advantage of Miller Park a bit, but that's what we are hoping we see from Chris, that he's able to do it."
The sacrifice fly came in the seventh. Carter swung at a slider low and away from Cory Gearrin for Strike 2 before Gearrin came back with the same pitch, slightly closer to the outside corner of the strike zone. Carter muscled it in the air to right-center field.
"It was a good at-bat," Counsell said. "It is an at-bat where you have to put the ball in play. It is something he's challenged by occasionally, but he did a nice job of it today. He had a big day for us."