Ryan Braun kept adding to his lists of first at first base on Sunday in the Milwaukee Brewers’ 6-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians in Cactus League play at Maryvale Baseball Park in Phoenix.
Braun committed his first error of the spring at first base, contributed to his most highlight-worthy defensive play to date and caught a pair of tricky popups. It was Braun’s third game at a position he might occasionally man in the regular season.
The error came in the first inning, when Braun fielded a Francisco Lindor bouncer and made an off-target lob to Brewers starting pitcher Jhoulys Chacin covering the bag. Chacin took the blame.
“I heard Lindor coming. I tried to catch the ball and hit the bag at the same time,” Chacin said. “I should have caught it and then gone for the bag. That’s my fault.”
An inning later, catcher Jett Bandy and Braun combined for a defensive gem. With Lindor batting and speedster Rajai Davis at first base with two outs, Bandy made a snap throw to first and Braun spun in time to lay a quick tag for the final out of the frame.
“The more innings he gets out there, the more innings he has, the more experience he gets,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said.
Counsell cautioned, “We’re evaluating 14 innings of baseball. Let’s let him play first base. This is his third game, so let him play.”
Counsell was looking beyond the box score when he assessed Yovani Gallardo’s stint. Gallardo’s spring ERA rose to 7.20 after he was charged with three earned runs on four hits and three walks in 2 1/3 innings.
“I like what Yo is doing. He’s making some changes and he’s being stubborn to make those changes, which is hard,” Counsell said. “When you’re asking somebody to make these changes, I almost foresaw some walks happening, because we’re asking him to pitch differently. But I’m happy to see him continue on this path.