MILWAUKEE -- The Ryan Braun-at-first base idea isn't exactly dead, but it is on hold while the Brewers ride Jesus Aguilar's productive April.Braun has not appeared at first base since starting the first two games of the regular season there, in part because Christian Yelich's oblique injury meant Braun has
MILWAUKEE -- The Ryan Braun-at-first base idea isn't exactly dead, but it is on hold while the Brewers ride Jesus Aguilar's productive April.
Braun has not appeared at first base since starting the first two games of the regular season there, in part because Christian Yelich's oblique injury meant Braun has been needed in the outfield. That left last year's duo of Eric Thames and Aguilar to cover the position, and they capitalized by combining to hit .324 with seven home runs, all from Thames, from Game No. 3 of the season through Game No. 20 on Thursday night.
Overall, Aguilar (1.037) and Thames (1.013) entered Friday's game leading the Brewers in OPS, and their first basemen, including Braun, led the Majors by more than 100 points with a .684 slugging percentage and also led with a .431 weighted on-base average.
"From my perspective, they've both picked up where they left off," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "They were both very productive last year, and they're off to very productive starts this year. Nothing has really changed from that perspective. We went in with a little different plan, and through some injuries and stuff, things have changed. Jesus has really taken advantage of that."
Even with the preseason plan of using Braun at first base against left-handers, Thames was going to get his at-bats against right-handers. Aguilar, however, was unsure whether he would make the Opening Day roster, much less get regular playing time.
But including a three-hit effort Thursday that included a pair of doubles, he leads the Brewers with a .456 wOBA.
"Look, Jesus is certainly earning at-bats," Counsell said.
Of the plan for Braun to play some first base, Counsell said, "It was best-laid plans, but the plan never happened. You have to keep your options open a little bit and understand that you don't know what's going to happen the next day sometimes. That's why [a player's] outlook and attitude are important, because it can change on a dime.
"When opportunity hits, you have to be ready for it."
Progress for Pina
Catcher Manny Pina tested his right calf injury with some pregame baserunning Friday, under the watch of Counsell, third-base coach Ed Sedar and assistant athletic trainer Rafael Freitas. Pina is eligible for reinstatement from the 10-day disabled list on Monday, an off-day before a three-city road trip.
Pina should come off the DL at some point during that trip, Counsell said.
"He did well. He did really well," Counsell said. "He probably ran at 80-85 percent. We put him through a pretty good test. Probably one more series of tests, but we're really pointing at good signs. … I don't know if I'll commit today to that first day [of the road trip], but he is on track to be ready for that road trip."
The Brewers' other injured catcher, Stephen Vogt, is also making progress from a strained right shoulder. Barring a setback, he is expected to head to Arizona sometime during the Brewers' road trip to compile at-bats in extended spring training before a Minor League rehab assignment with stops at Double-A Biloxi and Triple-A Colorado Springs.
At the moment, it appears Vogt will hit the original target of being Major League-ready by the second week of May. At that point, the Brewers will face some decisions with their catching corps.
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.