The 31-year-old has seen his production tail off in recent years due to a thumb injury, but it sounds like he believes the issue is behind him this season. "So far it feels great," Braun said. "Everything so far has gone as well as I could have possibly hoped. Hopefully, the next few weeks it continues to do the same and we can stop talking about it at some point in the near future."
Braun will not be limited during spring training, but admitted he'll keep an eye on how many swings he's taking. Braun put in more work than usual during the offseason, and said his thumb felt "really good."
While health is the key, Braun expressed confidence in his ability to regain his status as a top player in the league. "I've always felt like if I'm healthy, success is inevitable," he said. "I think most of us would feel the same way. As long as I'm healthy, I expect to go out there, be productive and do the things I've always done."
Braun hit .266/.324/.453 over 530 at-bats last year.
Aside from limiting him to extra hitting early on, there are no extra limitations on
Braun, 31, underwent a thumb procedure last October, and said in January that his thumb feels "significantly better" than at this time last year. He slashed .266/.324/.453 with 19 homers and 81 RBI in 135 games in 2014 while dealing with the injury.
"Knock on wood, I feel great; it feels really good," Braun told reporters.
"Everything is going well. Regular offseason, regular routine. I started hitting a little bit earlier than I typically do, just to see how it felt. So far, so good. It feels really good.
"I do everything I regularly do. I don't hit off live pitching but I take regular batting practice like we would during the season, and it feels good. I don't feel anything at all."
Added Braun: "I know it's significantly better than where it was this time last year, which I'm encouraged by. But as I told you guys the last time I saw everybody (at Thanksgiving) the real test will come in spring training, once we've played games for a couple of weeks and that everyday wear and tear. See how it recovers, see how it responds."
"It definitely worked," Braun said Wednesday, per MLB.com. "It makes a huge difference."
Braun swung a bat 10 days after the procedure and was happy the pain in his thumb was gone.
"Right now, I don’t feel any [discomfort], and I haven’t been able to say that for two years," he said. "I think I’ve told you guys, it [bothered him] shaking hands, writing -- you know, just everyday activities. Now I don’t feel it at all, so I’m excited."
While Braun is definitely optimistic, he is also a bit cautious because he isn't in the grind of playing baseball every day. He has received full clearance, however, for all offseason activities.
"I’m encouraged by how it feels, but at the same time, I think I have to be cautiously optimistic [until] I get into spring training and see how it responds," Braun said. "But it hasn’t felt this good in a really long time."
"He has taken some batting practice off a pitcher," Melvin said. "It's not like he's playing every day. You're not going to get a good feel and judgment on it until then, when you're playing every day, seven days a week, taking BP and all that. That's the true test."
Braun dealt with the thumb injury throughout the 2014 season, and he admitted the injury affected his performance.
"When you can't use your top hand as a baseball player, it drastically alters everything that you do," Braun said. "I've tried to adjust; I've tried to find a way to deal with it the best I could."
|CBSSports.com Player Ranking|
|9/28/2014 vs Chi. Cubs|
|vs Chi. Cubs||49||14||2||.375||.449||.286|
|vs Turner (Career)||8||1||0||.125||.222||.125|
|Last 7 Games|
|Complete Game Log|
| 5 || 6 |
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|More Batting Stats|
|Postseason Batting Stats|
|Minor League Batting Stats|
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