Braun strikes out in 2 at-bats against Giants split squad; Bees delay Giants second game
AP Sports Writer
PHOENIX (AP) – If his spring training debut was any indication, earplugs might come in handy for Ryan Braun this season.
The reigning NL MVP was heckled while striking out in his only two at-bats in the Milwaukee Brewers’ 1-all tie with a split squad of the San Francisco Giants on Sunday.
It was Braun’s first game since getting caught up in a drug case during the offseason. He recently won his appeal, overturning a 50-game suspension for a positive drug test.
The game was at Milwaukee’s Maryvale Baseball Park and Brewers fans gave Braun a standing ovation when he came to bat.
But about half of the 6,619 fans cheered for the Giants and greeted Braun with catcalls. They serenaded the Brewers slugger with chants of “Ur-ine Sam-ple!” before Braun struck out swinging against Madison Bumgarner in his first at-bat. His second time up, Braun was greeted with chants of “Cheater!” before looking at strike three.
Braun was getting the kind of treatment Barry Bonds used to draw toward the end of his career – and from the very fans who were the only ones who didn’t deride the Giants superstar who was long suspected of using steroids.
Braun said he was glad the games are finally here.
“Yeah, it was great. I think for all of us as a team, you look forward to games starting. It’s a little more adrenaline, little more excitement and enthusiasm. So, it was fun,” he said.
The Brewers got a double dose of bad news before the game when Rickie Weeks (tight right shoulder) and right fielder Corey Hart (right knee) were late scratches. An MRI exam revealed Hart has a torn meniscus and needs arthroscopic surgery that will sideline him three to four weeks.
Then, Milwaukee’s biggest star got razzed at his home spring park.
Brewers starter Randy Wolf, who retired all six batters he faced, said he was oblivious to the catcalls directed at Braun, who has never really been the target of opposing fans’ wrath before.
“I honestly didn’t hear any of that,” Wolf said. “I heard more supportive cheers than anything else, to tell you the truth. Obviously, you’re going to get that more in Maryvale where a lot of people got away from the cold of Milwaukee and came here to enjoy the nice weather.”
Bumgarner didn’t pay any attention to Braun’s hecklers, either.
“No, I mean we’ve got too much to focus on without trying to listen to what the fans are saying,” Bumgarner said. “When you’re facing a lineup like that, you’ve got to be locked in on what you’re doing. I’m not worried about that, he’s one of the best players in the game.”
Union head Michael Weiner was at the stadium Sunday as part of his annual tour of teams at spring training and he told reporters that he’s getting questions from players all over about Braun’s case and baseball’s drug program.
He said he was unsure whether Major League Baseball and the union would need to make changes in the drug program until both sides get the arbitrator’s opinion on the case later this month.
Braun’s legal team argued in a grievance hearing that the drug collector, Dino Laurenzi Jr., did not follow the procedures specified in baseball’s drug agreement.
Weiner said it was unfortunate that Braun’s case was leaked to the public along with the collector’s identity.
Braun is without fellow slugger Prince Fielder for the first time this year and he might have to start the season without Hart, who’s homered 57 times over the last two seasons.
“You feel for him,” Braun said. “He always been one of my best friends. He’s a great player. He certainly helps our team a lot. So, from that perspective, it’s disappointing. Obviously, as a team, we’re better off if we have him.”
Braun took solace in the Brewers’ deep outfield that includes Carlos Gomez and Norichika Aoki backing up Brawn, Hart and Nyjer Morgan.
“We do have the luxury of having some depth,” Braun said. “Our fourth and fifth outfielders are as good as anybody in baseball. It’s never something you want to see happen, but we have the depth to be able to hold down the fort until he comes back.”
Gomez replaced Hart and drove in Milwaukee’s run with a single in the third off Bumgarner, the only hit he allowed in 2 2-3 innings.
“I know that’s a bad thing to say, but I get used to having injuries and having to deal with how you move on and how you get through those times,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said
Brandon Crawford had two hits and drove in San Francisco’s run with an RBI single in the fifth.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) – This was no ‘B’ game.
The Diamondbacks’ grounds crew used a combination of cotton candy and lemonade to help disperse a swarm of bees that delayed the San Francisco Giants split squad’s 11-1 win over Arizona for 41 minutes in the second inning Sunday.
With runners on second and third and one out in the second inning, a dark cloud appeared in right field, sending Diamondbacks center fielder Chris Young sprinting toward left.
“I didn’t see them at first I just heard them,” Young said. “I am not afraid of one or two of them. I wouldn’t flinch at that. When you start talking about 500, 600 of them yea, I am afraid of that. I would be afraid of anything of that many. If there were that many mosquitoes, I would be afraid of that.”
The bees moved toward the right field line then down to the Giants dugout behind first base. Two sections of fans near the dugout were evacuated and the bees settled in a camera well adjacent to the dugout.
With the bees buzzing, Young and right fielder Adam Eaton signed autographs and mingled with fans near the center field fence. Giants center fielder Angel Pagan was prepared if the bees reached the dugout.
“I was right next to the bathroom in case I had to lock myself in,” Pagan said.
The grounds crew came up with a sweet solution.
They smeared a combination of concession-stand lemonade and cotton candy on two utility carts and lured many of the bees away from fans and players. Some of the bees, however, found a perch on a television camera.
Only one person reported being stung, a Salt River Fields employee.
Diamondback ace Ian Kennedy was on the mound when the bees showed up and didn’t return after the 41-minute delay. Kennedy threw 29 pitches, allowing one run and three hits.
“I was almost done. I was ready to go back out there but it was way too long to go back in,” Kennedy said. “I threw a lot of fastballs, one or two breaking balls to get my command but for the most par a lot of fastballs.”
Giants starter, non-roster invitee Brian Burres, was also pulled after the delay. He allowed one hit in one inning.
Once the game resumed Hector Sanchez smacked the first pitch from Diamondbacks reliever Barry Enright for an RBI single to give the Giants a 1-0 lead. San Francisco blew the game open in the fourth inning when the first four batters all singled and scored.
Ryan Theriot, Sanchez and Brett Pill each had three hits for San Francisco in a 21-hit barrage. Sanchez also had three RBIs and Pill two.
“I thought we swung the bats well yesterday, and today the two guys at the top of the order, (Pagan and Melkey Cabrera) showed us we are a little more athletic,” Giants Manager Bruce Bochy said. “Really though out the lineup guys swung the bat well today. All of them did. It was a very nice ballgame.”
NOTES: This is the second day in a row the Giants were involved in a strange incident. Saturday, at the Giants facility the club had to evacuate because of a gas leak. “Let’s see, yesterday gas, today bees,” Bochy said. “What’s next? Tomorrow night is a night game, so bats?” … A crowd of 12,568 attended the game setting a new Salt River Field record. . Giants reliever Dan Runzler will miss three to four weeks with a strained lat muscle in his right shoulder. An MRI showed no structural damage. However, the 26-year-old will travel to Florida and meet with Dr. James Andrews Monday for a second opinion. … The Diamondbacks are still being cautious with reliever J.J. Putz. The veteran closer, who is not expected to see game action until Friday, threw an extended bullpen session Saturday, about 40 pitches. He will participate in another bullpen session before he plays. . Diamondbacks infielder Ryan Ryal will take a few days off to rest his ailing right groin. Ryal was taken out of Saturday’s game against the Giants in the fourth inning. Ryal had an RBI double in two at-bats before leaving the game.
YANKEES 7, PHILLIES 4
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) – Alex Rodriguez homered on the first pitch he saw from Roy Halladay and later added an RBI double and single Sunday that sent the New York Yankees past the Philadelphia Phillies 7-4.
Rodriguez, whose power numbers dropped last year during an injury-interrupted season, hit a solo home run to right in the first inning.
Halladay allowed one run, two hits and struck out three in two innings.
Hunter Pence hit a two-run homer for the Phillies. He also connected Saturday against the Yankees.
TIGERS 18, BRAVES 3
LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) – Atlanta pitcher Julio Teheran was tagged for six home runs in just two innings and the Detroit Tigers connected nine times overall in romping past the Braves.
Prince Fielder homered his first time up. Tigers teammate Ryan Raburn hit two home runs, including a grand slam.
With a strong wind blowing out to right field, Teheran allowed a total of six hits, all of them home runs.
The post-1900 record for homers allowed in a major league regular season game, by the way, is six. That’s happened eight times, most recently by Tampa Bay’s James Shields in 2010 against Toronto, STATS LLC said. Tim Wakefield and R.A. Dickey also are on the list.
Max Scherzer made his spring debut for the Tigers and allowed three hits in two scoreless innings. Closer Jose Valverde pitched a shutout inning.
ASTROS 10, NATIONALS 2
VIERA, Fla. (AP) – Stephen Strasburg struck out three in his spring training debut, but gave up two runs while pitching into the third inning of Washington loss to Houston.
The Astros’ J.A. Happ went two innings, giving up one run and three hits with one strikeout.
Strasburg, who made just five starts last year after coming back from Tommy John surgery, gave up a solo homer in the bottom of third to Houston catcher Chris Snyder. He left with a runner on second and two outs in the inning.
Washington’s 19-year-old outfielder Bryce Harper went 1 for 2 with a single and a strikeout.
RED SOX 8, TWINS (SS) 3
FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) – Josh Beckett pitched two scoreless innings and Lars Anderson hit a grand slam, leading manager Bobby Valentine and Boston Red to a victory over a Minnesota split squad in their spring training opener.
Beckett gave up one hit with two strikeouts for Boston.
Left-hander Francisco Liriano allowed a hit and walked one in two scoreless innings for the Twins. He struck out one.
Ben Revere drove in a run with a groundout in the fifth and had an RBI single in the seventh for the Twins.
ROYALS 6, RANGERS 1
SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) – Billy Butler hit a two-run homer in the first inning and Kansas City defeated Texas Rangers in the exhibition opener for both clubs.
Butler hit an 0-2 pitch from Colby Lewis over the fence in left-center field.
Lorenzo Cain, who went 2 for 2, opened the Royals’ four-run fifth with a double off left-hander Michael Kirkman.
Luis Mendoza, a candidate for a spot in the Royals’ rotation after leading the Pacific Coast League with a 2.18 ERA, went two scoreless innings. He allowed a single and walked one.
BLUE JAYS 8, PIRATES 5
BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) – Erik Bedard gave up two runs in two innings of his spring training debut for Pittsburgh, which lost to Toronto.
Bedard hit the first batter he faced, gave up a double to Travis Snider, walked two and struck out one.
Snider was 2 for 4 with three RBIs for the Jays. He had a run-scoring single in the fourth. In the sixth, Snider drove in two runs with a grounder to reliever Evan Meek.
Blue Jays left-hander Aaron Laffey, who is competing for a rotation spot, had a 1-2-3 first inning. In the second, he allowed a run on singles by Rod Barajas, Matt Hague and Chase d’Arnaud.
Barajas went 2 for 2 with two RBIs. Nick Evans homered for the Pirates.
TWINS (SS) 5, RAYS 3
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. (AP) – Reigning AL Rookie of the Year Jeremy Hellickson pitched two scoreless innings for Tampa Bay in his spring debut and the Rays lost to a Minnesota Twins split squad.
Hellickson gave up a leadoff single to Alexi Casilla and threw 16 pitches in the opening inning. He needed only six pitches to retire the side in the second.
Casilla had three hits, including an infield single off Fernando Rodney in the third. The new Rays reliever allowed one run on two hits and a wild pitch.
ATHLETICS 12, CUBS 10
MESA, Ariz. (AP) – Brandon Allen belted a grand slam and drove in seven runs, and Oakland beat the Cubs 12-10 to spoil Chicago’s spring training opener.
Cubs starter Rodrigo Lopez pitched two perfect innings, striking out two. Chicago closer Carlos Marmol retired all three batters he faced, striking out one.
Jeff Beliveau, however, failed to get an out, giving up three walks and a run-scoring single by Josh Reddick.
Oakland starter Brandon McCarthy yielded three runs – two earned – and four hits in three innings.
MARINERS 5, PADRES 4
PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) – Jason Vargas threw four scoreless innings and third baseman Kyle Seager had three hits in the Seattle’s over San Diego.
Vargas threw 50 pitches and did not allow a base runner.
The Padres, playing their spring training opener, committed three errors, two in the fifth inning that led to a pair of Mariners’ runs.
Seager homered in the first inning off Padres starter Anthony Bass.
REDS 8, INDIANS 6
GOODYEAR, Ariz. (AP) – Ubaldo Jimenez allowed five runs – one earned – in one inning in his spring debut and Cincinnati beat Cleveland.
The Indians obtained Jimenez at the trade deadline last season after a 6-9 start at Colorado. He was 4-4 in 11 starts with Cleveland after the deal.
Homer Bailey and Aroldis Chapman, competing for the fifth spot in the Reds’ rotation, each pitched two innings.
Chapman is being converted to a starting pitcher after working out of the bullpen the past two seasons. He allowed one run in two innings.