PHOENIX – Ryan Braun raised his spring training batting average to .800 with a double and a single in three plate appearances for the Milwaukee Brewers during their 4-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs on Monday.
Braun also made a nice catch in his new position, right field. He has four hits, two for extra bases, and two walks in seven plate appearances this spring.
"I'd rather hit it on the barrel right now than strike out, but results are completely irrelevant," said Braun, suspended for the final 65 games last season as part of the Biogenesis drug scandal. "Getting on base six out of seven times ... I'll take it."
Shortstop prospect Javier Baez had two hits, including a solo home run, for the Cubs, who won for the first time in four Cactus League games. Walter Ibarra's two-run single in the seventh put them ahead to stay. John Baker also had a pair of hits.
Braun walked in the first inning, doubled to left-center and scored in the fourth, and singled in the fifth before being lifted for a pinch-runner. Kentrail Davis scored on a two-out double by Carlos Gomez, who picked up his second RBI of the spring.
Braun received his first extended round of applause this spring, with only a hint of boos, when he stepped into the box in the first inning.
He said he is still adjusting to right field after playing on the left side of the diamond for his entire baseball career (left field, third base and shortstop), but is fine with the switch.
"I've said the whole time that whatever's in the team's best interest, that's what I'll do," Braun said. "I think I'm athletic enough and have enough arm strength to play right field.
"Seeing the game from a different angle is truly a unique experience. I've played second base three or four times and right field once (in an All-Star game). It's only been for a week and a half, but I feel better now than in the beginning. The comfort level is improving."
Cubs: Non-roster RHP Eric Jokisch threw three hitless innings against a quality Milwaukee lineup featuring Braun, Gomez and Jean Segura. Jokisch walked Braun in the first and Sean Halton in the second, but 35 of his 55 pitches were strikes.
The former Northwestern pitcher, now in his fifth season of professional baseball, was 11-13 at Double-A Tennessee last season. He threw a no-hitter on Aug. 6 at Jacksonville.
Brewers: Marco Estrada allowed four hits in three innings during his second start of the spring, including a solo homer to Baez in the first. Estrada struggled in the second, when he allowed three hits.
"It was a big difference from the first outing. I felt out of whack then, but today was much better mentally," he said. "My rhythm was good."
Estrada was 3-0 with a 2.15 ERA in nine starts after returning last August from a hamstring injury.
THAT WAS QUICK
The Brewers got an impressive sixth inning from 21-year-old Rule 5 draftee Wei-Chung Wang in his first appearance of the spring. Wang struck out two batters, throwing eight strikes in 11 pitches.
ANYTHING YOU CAN DO
The first inning was filled with strong defense.
First baseman Mark Reynolds, making his Brewers debut, made a nice play on a smash by leadoff hitter Chris Coghlan. Not to be outdone, Ryan Roberts of the Cubs made a leaping stab at second to rob Segura of a hit. Baez made a nice running catch in foul ground to take care of Scooter Gennett. And Chicago third baseman Luis Valbuena had the play of the day, taking a hit away from Gomez with a diving grab of a sizzling line drive in the fourth.
With 80-year-old Brewers broadcasting great Bob Uecker announcing that he will cut back his work schedule this year, WTMJ radio announced that former Brewers Craig Counsell, Darryl Hamilton and Jerry Augustine will alternate as commentators on the broadcasts that Uecker sits out. Counsell also serves as a special assistant to Milwaukee general manager Doug Melvin.