PHOENIX -- If you thought the opponent would provide the first test of Ryan Braun's first-ever game at first base, you were wrong. It was a teammate.Braun dove off the bag to prevent a hurried throw from Brewers starter Jhoulys Chacin from sailing down the right-field line, limiting Giants leadoff
PHOENIX -- If you thought the opponent would provide the first test of Ryan Braun's first-ever game at first base, you were wrong. It was a teammate.
Braun dove off the bag to prevent a hurried throw from Brewers starter Jhoulys Chacin from sailing down the right-field line, limiting Giants leadoff man Steven Duggar to a bunt single in a 10-10 tie with the Giants on Wednesday at Maryvale Baseball Park. It was the highlight of Braun's four-inning stint at his newest position.
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"I tried to help. I tried to test him right away," Chacin said with a smile. "First pitch of the game, first guy. He handled it really well. He looked great."
Braun handled himself well again in the second inning when he picked third baseman Hernan Perez's low throw for the final out.
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"We had action right off the bat," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "There were runners on base quite a bit, so he was holding runners, getting a feel for that. He had a pick in the second inning. He had to get in the cutoff position on a couple of different plays.
"I would say it was a real positive experience for the first day. Some things to put through his head that he can check off the list as experiences."
There are more experiences ahead, which is why Braun requested some time before he assesses his performance at first base. He did answer one question: Why wasn't he wearing the right mitt?
"I used my outfield glove just because it felt most comfortable," Braun said. "There was no strategic advantage; I just don't have my own first-base glove broken in so the outfield glove felt more comfortable."
About his debut more generally, Braun said, "I felt OK."
The Brewers hope that occasionally playing first base during the regular season helps Braun stay healthy while opening at-bats in the outfield for a group that includes newcomers Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich. What that means for the Brewers' current backup first baseman, Jesus Aguilar, won't be known until deeper into camp, by which time Braun and the club will have a better feel for his comfort.
"We're really at the start of this process," Counsell said.
Counsell saw this coming. He first raised the idea of having Braun play some first base at the end of last season, partly as a response to Braun being limited to 105 games by injuries, and partly because the Brewers already had eyes on free agent-to-be Cain and trade target Yelich.
The Brewers landed both outfielders for the next five years. Santana has four years of club control remaining, and Braun has three guaranteed years left on his contract.
"I think it was in my head and [general manager] David [Stearns'] head of something that could be a possibility," Counsell said. "How an offseason comes together, you've got targets and then it's the execution of it. You're hoping it happens. But I think we were in the mode that we were going to add players."
Now it's a matter of getting Braun comfortable.
"Some of it you can coach, and you can tell him, but you have to experience it," Counsell said.
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.