PHOENIX -- What would Ryan Braun's perfect Spring Training look like? It would be one week long, and there might not be any baseball games."If Opening Day was today," Braun said on Sunday, "I'm 100 percent ready for the season. I'm serious. I don't need any at-bats. I feel really
PHOENIX -- What would Ryan Braun's perfect Spring Training look like? It would be one week long, and there might not be any baseball games.
"If Opening Day was today," Braun said on Sunday, "I'm 100 percent ready for the season. I'm serious. I don't need any at-bats. I feel really good."
He said this on Day 2 of Cactus League games, and nearly two weeks away from his own projected Spring Training debut.
Braun is starting later in part because he does not require many at-bats to prepare for the season, but also to keep him healthy in his second season following back surgery. He does not anticipate playing in the Cactus League until March 10, when the Brewers have split-squad games at home against the White Sox and on the road against the D-backs. That date is open to adjustment, he said.
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Would Braun be OK with no Spring Training at all?
"I need Spring Training. I need a week of Spring Training," he said. "I just don't need at-bats to feel ready for games. A week or two. Just run around, be in cleats for five or six hours every day. I need to throw every day, take some fly balls and get some routes, take some fly balls off the bat. I need to take batting practice every day. I need to do all of those things, but I've never felt like I needed a ton of at-bats in Spring Training."
Braun takes a similar approach into the regular season. Unlike some players who prefer as much pregame work as possible, sometimes taking hundreds of swings even before the start of batting practice on the field, Braun prefers a "less is more" approach. He has a complicated pregame routine that includes stretching and work in the pool, but he takes the bare minimum number of swings each day.
If he is feeling good at the plate, Braun sometimes skips batting practice entirely. Last year, coming off back surgery, Braun and Brewers manager Craig Counsell devised a schedule of built-in days off that allowed him to navigate the season with no stints on the disabled list; Braun played in 135 games and hit .305 with 30 home runs, 91 RBIs and a .903 OPS -- his best marks in all of those categories since he finished runner-up to Buster Posey in 2012 National League Most Valuable Player voting.
"I do think it makes sense to put guys in an optimal position to succeed, and that might mean not playing in all 162 games," Braun said. "Ultimately, it's about getting the most out of every player on your roster. I feel a lot better this year than I have in a long time. So certainly the goal is to play more than the 140 or so games I played last year. I think the goal is always to be somewhere over that 150 range.
"Right now, obviously, there is a long ways to go. Certainly, though, the goal is to play in more games than I did last season."
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast.