Ryan Braun was a late scratch for the Brewers due to lower back soreness. He had back surgery in the off-season and was slowly easing back into play (seven at-bats) without any setbacks before Thursday. Braun’s replacement, Eric Young Jr., hit a two-run homer.
“We’re just going to be cautious,” Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said of his approach to Braun. “He won’t be in there tomorrow. We’ll see for Saturday. I don’t think it’s a red flag. I’m not concerned. We’re just going to be overly cautious at this point. I anticipate him being in there on Saturday.”
Peralta, the Brewers’ No. 1 starter, had his best outing of the spring, allowing four hits and one run, a solo homer to Eric Hosmer. It was the third homer for Hosmer, who is now hitting .400.
“I’m right where I want to be. I feel strong, healthy and now you work to maintain it. That’s all you can ask for,” Hosmer said. “(Royals manager) Ned (Yost) does a great job of easing us back into shape. This is the first week we’re playing three games in a row and it feels just right.”
Reymond Fuentes added his third homer of the spring in the ninth inning for Kansas City. Starter Dillion Gee sailed through the first three innings before allowing the three-run homer to Maldonado in the fourth.
Royals: Gee allowed three hits in four innings, getting into trouble in the fourth with two walks, an RBI single by Jonathan Villar and Maldonado’s home run to left center.
“I felt good early. That last inning I lost my release point and struggled with command,” Gee said. “I feel like I have thrown the ball better this spring than I have in other years. I’m healthy and feeling good where I’m at.”
Brewers: Peralta entered the game with an 11.70 ERA but had his best start by far, allowing four hits and striking out three.
Counsell hasn’t named his starting center fielder. But Keon Broxton sure looks like one, even on a day when he doesn’t get to hit. Broxton made the defensive play of the day for Milwaukee, a diving catch of Whit Merrifield’s fly ball before popping to his feet and throwing a strike to second to double off Travis Snider.
“I thought the runner was going to be back in plenty of time. I saw the umpire call him out and I was shocked,” said Braxton, who his hitting .345 with an on-base percentage of .500. “I’ve done as much as I can to make a statement. It’s not in my hands.”
DEAL OR NO DEAL?
The Brewers still have seven pitchers vying for the final two spots on the staff. Starters Peralta, Jimmy Nelson, Matt Garza, Taylor Jungmann and Chase Anderson and relievers Michael Blazek, Corey, Knebel, Jeremy Jeffress, Will Smithand Tyler Thornberg are already locked in leaving seven pitchers battling for two spots.
Among those are three veterans – Blaine Boyer, Chris Capuano and Franklin Morales – who are camp invitees and not on the 40-man roster. There is wiggle room with both Rymer Liriano and Yhonathan Barrios starting the season on the disabled list. The team has until no later than March 29 to be put invitees on the roster. If they aren’t they earn a $100,000 retention bonus.
Capuano and Morales are lefties and figured to be battling with Sean Nolin, who hasn’t pitched since March 14 due to elbow soreness.
Royals: Pitcher Tim Collins will have Tommy John surgery for the second time in a year after the ligament graft from the first surgery in March of 2015 was unsuccessful.
Brewers: Liriano, who was hit in the face by a pitch on Sunday, was scheduled to see a plastic surgeon Thursday to discuss options.
Royals: Right-hander Ian Kennedy will star against the San Francisco Giants at Scottsdale Stadium.
Brewers: Right-hander Jimmy Nelson will face the Chicago Cubs at Sloan Park.