Wednesday, April 3, 2013

5 Things We Learned in Brewers Spring Training

Ryan Braun will forever have a target on his back: Okay, so maybe we already knew this. It was apparent last year that nearly every baseball fan outside of Milwaukee hated Ryan Braun and assumed he was a cheater. However, what we learned this spring is that the MLB truly believes that as well. Major League Baseball went as far as labeling Braun “Public Enemy #1” this spring, with rumors circulating regarding their apparent willingness to grant immunity to PED offenders in exchange for information that would help them to nab Braun. Things pretty much heated up again following the Biogenesis report, which indicated that Braun owed money to the organization for services rendered. Braun put out a statement, claiming he used Biogenesis founder Anthony Bosch as a consultant in fighting his drug suspension last offseason. Regardless of his reasons, Braun’s name popping up in this fiasco didn’t bode well for his chances of forgiveness when it comes to the MLB and its fanbase. Regardless of the outcome, fans in Milwaukee will continue to back their superstar left fielder, myself included.  

Jean Segura is going to be a star: Yes, most people already knew this as well, but now EVERYONE knows this. After showing promise in the closing weeks on the 2012 season, Segura wasted no time in getting back on the field and continuing to develop his skills. He spent the winter playing in the Dominican Winter League. Segura shined in 35 games, batting .324 to win the league’s batting title while also swiping 11 bases. He didn’t skip a beat when spring training rolled around, as his bat continue to scorch baseballs, this time at a .367 clip while stealing 5 bases in Cactus League play. The one thing Segura may be lacking is power, but if he continues to get on base at a high rate and play solid defense, he can prove to be a very capable starter for the Brewers at shortstop and a fixture in the lineup for years to come. 

Khris Davis could be a star: After destroying baseballs for much of the year in AAA Nashville last season, many fans wondered where Khris Davis might fit into Milwaukee’s plans for the future. He played well in spring training, leading the team with 6 home runs in Cactus League play and hitting a 7th when the crew played team Canada. He fields his position well in left field, but the knock on him is his arm. He needs to show that he can make consistent, well-placed throws from that position if he expects to get consistent time in the lineup. Oh, and there’s that guy named Ryan Braun that happens to play the same position. Ron Roenicke has said they will try him in right field in an attempt to get him some playing time, but for the time being, Davis’ hot bat has at least earned him a spot on the Brewers bench to see if he can provide some pop as a pinch hitter.  

Mark Rogers is still a disappointment: Now I’m not knocking Mark Rogers. I love the guy and remain impressed with his resilience in fighting off injury after injury to reach this point since being drafted in the first round in 2004. But after posting promising stats in a short stint with the big league club last year, this spring Rogers has let fans down by failing to consistently hit the strike zone or generate the velocity he is known for. I still won’t go as far as calling him a total bust, as time will tell if he can bounce back from what has been labeled a “dead arm” and get back to throwing in the upper 90’s again. However, the Brewers front office was hoping he could earn a spot in the rotation, as he is currently out of minor league options. After his stint on the DL, the Brewers will have to make a decision whether to keep him in the bullpen or cut him loose. 

Bob Uecker’s still got it: Ueck turned 78 in January, and by no means is he slowing down. He was able to do a handful of games during spring training and continues to make listeners laugh while calling a great game. Fans have wondered, including myself, how much time Uecker has left in the booth, especially after a few health issues he has faced in recent years. But rest assured, he is still going strong and hasn’t lost a step from last season. And for those worried, refer to Vin Scully, the Dodgers play-by-play man who is back in the booth in Los Angeles for another season, at 85 years of age! Fans will be particularly interested in the new segment Bob and Joe will be doing in the booth this season called “Ask Ueck.” Fans can email in questions that Joe will read on air for Bob to answer during the games. The segment was introduced during the crew’s first game back at Miller Park and Bob didn’t fail to disappoint with his witty, informative answers. Submit your questions to and see if your question is chosen to be read on air for Ueck to answer!

Until next time, Beers, Brats, and Championships.

- Joseph Norton (@JoeP_Norton)

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