MILWAUKEE -- Less than three hours before game time on Saturday night, Nick Franklin found out he'd be starting in left field, replacing Brewers slugger Ryan Braun, who was scratched with tightness in his lower back.It didn't matter that Franklin had only played the position twice in Spring Training and
MILWAUKEE -- Less than three hours before game time on Saturday night, Nick Franklin found out he'd be starting in left field, replacing Brewers slugger Ryan Braun, who was scratched with tightness in his lower back.
It didn't matter that Franklin had only played the position twice in Spring Training and joined the team on Friday after being claimed off waivers from the Rays on Wednesday. A jack-of-all-trades defensively, Franklin has played every position but catcher and center field in 210 Major League games over four seasons, even pitching an inning for the Rays in 2015.
Franklin was ready to go, blasting a two-run homer off right-hander Kyle Hendricks in the fourth inning that tied the game at 4 in a contest eventually won by the Cubs, 11-6, at Miller Park.
"I've played six or seven different positions, so I'm pretty much comfortable anywhere they want to put me," Franklin said. "Anytime I can fill a spot. Today, [the score] was unfortunate, but I obviously got an opportunity, which was great, too."
A switch-hitter, 22 of Franklin's 23 Major League homers have been hit when he was batting left-handed. He went 1-for-3 on Saturday before being replaced in a double switch after six innings.
To get ready for game action, Franklin stood in and hit against Milwaukee starter Matt Garza, who threw on the side on Friday while attempting to return from a strained right groin. He also faced Chase Anderson when the right-hander threw in the bullpen before Saturday's game.
"I'm trying to feel my way out and make sure I don't lose anything I gained in Spring Training and try to keep myself prepared," Franklin said.
Franklin also made several plays in left field.
"I tried to make all the plays I could, tried not to overthrow anybody and hit the cutoff man," Franklin said.
Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said before the game he wanted to get as many players batting left-handed against Hendricks as possible, and it paid off. Left-handed batters, including the switch-hitting Franklin, went 5-for-15 with two home runs, a double and a walk, while Hendricks held right-handed batters hitless in eight at-bats.
And Franklin's hit was the biggest of the game for the Brewers, pulling them into a short-lived tie.
"It ties us up and gets us right back into it," Counsell said.
Unfortunately for Milwaukee, the Cubs scored a pair of runs on two infield hits in the fifth to take the lead for good en route to the win.
"The Franklin home run puts us right back in it, and it turns into a good ballgame, but that kind of took the wind out of our sails for sure," Counsell said.
With Hernan Perez already on the team and able to play multiple positions, the addition of Franklin gives Counsell plenty of flexibility in setting his lineup. Last year, Franklin batted .270 with six home runs and 26 RBIs in 60 games.
Joe DiGiovanni is a contributor to MLB.com based in Milwaukee.