ST. LOUIS -- After missing the 2016 season with a knee injury, Brewers infielder Eric Sogard developed a different perspective on the game.
"For me, I'm just grateful to be back out playing this game again," Sogard said before Thursday's series finale against the Cardinals. "So it's put a little different perspective on the game for me, I think, after missing all last year and not being able to play, to just come out and have fun when I get that opportunity."
Sogard, 31, is in his first year with Milwaukee after parts of six seasons with Oakland. After injuries opened a spot -- and playing time -- on the Major League roster, he's found a role as the Brewers' second baseman and leadoff hitter.
The left-handed-hitting Sogard is batting .357/.471/.559 with eight doubles, three home runs, 14 RBIs and 19 runs scored. He has 17 walks and just 10 strikeouts.
"This is, I think, what ultimately a healthy, really productive Eric Sogard can give you," manager Craig Counsell said. "He's obviously performing at an incredibly high level right now. … He's been an important player."
Sogard said starting the season in Triple-A Colorado Springs benefited him, as he got consistent at-bats, found his rhythm and then kept it going.
"I've been comfortable all season," Sogard said. "I feel good. I've been able to see the ball well, and I'm not trying to do too much up there, just get a good pitch to hit. I feel like I've been managing the strike zone well."
Sogard hit .239 in 435 games with the A's, but he's thrived with the Brewers. He was a catalyst in Wednesday's win with two hits, two RBIs and two runs scored, reaching base three times.
"He gets on base, he takes pitches, he gets key hits," first baseman Eric Thames said. "I feel like he's been a huge addition to our team. … When he gets on base, I feel like we win a lot of the time."
The Brewers are 11-4 with Sogard in the leadoff spot.
"Eric kind of forced his way into this, really," Counsell said. "He just played so well that he's earned at-bats. … He's earned his at-bats, and he's forced his way into the lineup."
Braun working toward return
Left fielder Ryan Braun, on the disabled list with a left calf strain, is working toward his return.
"He's going to have a pretty full day today on the field during batting practice," Counsell said before Thursday's game. "He'll take balls live in left field during batting practice. We're progressing. He's been on the field this whole road trip. We're hoping for pretty some good feedback after today, really."